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    Hundreds offer Bushes their advice and support

    The arrest of the governor's daughter strikes a chord in many people with similar experiences and from professionals who offer help.

    By LUCY MORGAN, Times Tallahassee Bureau Chief

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published January 31, 2002


    TALLAHASSEE -- More than 200 e-mails and calls poured into the office of Gov. Jeb Bush on Wednesday as news spread around the world about the arrest of his daughter Noelle on charges of posing as a doctor to obtain the prescription drug Xanax.

    The messages from around the United States and several foreign countries were from parents of children with drug abuse problems, parents whose children died of drug overdoses, health care workers, drug counselors and a few people who just wanted to wish the Bush family well.

    "I didn't vote for you or your brother, but when I read the article about your daughter I had to reach out to you," wrote Bernard Shirley, a Gainesville man. "I'm a father myself and I know the worries that we go through together as parents. We do the best we can and pray that they will find help."

    Many of those who wrote to the governor denounced the widespread publicity about the arrest. Others offered to talk to Noelle, 24, or the entire family to help them understand that they have shared similar experiences.

    "I am now four years clean and sober," wrote Sharon M. Knight of Coquitlam, British Columbia. "I too, was addicted to a variety of prescription medication due to an underlying problem of a panic and anxiety disorder."

    Many of the letters were filled with sad tales of children who died. Ronald L. Jorgensen Sr. wrote of the death of his son, Michael, on Jan. 18 in Houston.

    Dr. Alix Baxter, a psychiatrist in Gainesville, offered some free advice and the name of a professor at Florida State University in Tallahassee who might be able to help.

    The father of a Jensen Beach woman arrested at age 14 on drug charges urged the governor to grant his daughter clemency, but also suggested the governor allow his own daughter to go to prison for a year or so.

    "It's not a fun place to be, but I can tell you from first-hand experience, it did my daughter a world of good," wrote Dr. Ed Lindoo.

    Meanwhile, Tallahassee police said Wednesday that Noelle Bush told police after a September 2000 car crash that she had taken prescription medication before the accident.

    A police spokesman said she showed no signs of drug intoxication, and, since there were no injuries in the crash, she wasn't tested for impairment. Bush received a traffic citation and was released after her Volkswagen sideswiped another car stopped at an intersection.

    Gov. Bush's office declined to comment on the accident. It was Noelle Bush's third of four crashes in Leon County over the last two years.

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    From the Times state desk