Ryan Santanna smoked salvia before leaping to his death from Roosevelt Island Balcony
By Kerry Wills and Barry Paddock, Daily News March 8, 2011
The father of a film student who apparently jumped from a Roosevelt Island balcony after smoking salvia said Tuesday that the hallucinogenic plant should be banned.
"I would like to have it illegalized because of the effect it causes and the loss of life," said Lauro Santanna, whose son Ryan leapt to his death Sunday. "I'll do everything in my power to get this thing out of the market.
"They say, 'We can't do anything until something happens.' Well, something happened. It cannot be legal anymore," he said.
Ryan Santanna, 21, was hanging out Sunday with ex-girlfriend Benazir Balani on his bedroom balcony smoking the hallucinogenic substance, she said.
Balani said he then lay down on his stomach, pretending to swim like an animal on the 15th-floor balcony.
"He stared at me but it was like he wasn't seeing me; it was just a blank stare," she said.
Then he jumped.
"He just ran and hopped over the fence," said Balani, 20, of Queens. "He had no idea who he was, what he was doing."
Salvia - a member of the mint family that provides a quick, potent high and is legal in New York - made headlines in December when Miley Cyrus was caught smoking it on video.
But Santanna's father says people don't know that it is dangerous.
"Like my son, I think a lot of people don't understand what this is," Lauro Santanna said. "Sometimes the only way to stop people is to make them afraid. I want people to be afraid of this stuff."
Ryan Santanna was a film production student at the Art Institute of New York City set to graduate in the spring. His father said classmates will finish a film he was making.
"I want people to know he was a happy person," said Santanna's weeping mother, Vera Cordiero Santanna, 50.
Santanna had no history of mental problems, police sources said. His death is being investigated as a possible suicide, and the city medical examiner said the initial autopsy was inconclusive.