Pennsylvania Hit With Batch of Drugs That Spiked Overdose Rates

By Kelly Burch 03/08/18

York County has had 26 confirmed opioid overdose deaths this year, half of which have taken place in the last week and a half. 

Ambulance rushing through intersection headng for the ER.

Officials in York County, Pennsylvania are warning the public about an especially dangerous batch of heroin in the region, after 13 people fatally overdosed in just 10 days. 

Despite seeing more overdoses than normal, York County Coroner Pam Gay hesitated to call this the result of a bad batch of drugs. 

“Any amount is enough to kill somebody, any amount of heroin and fentanyl,” Gay told ABC 27. “There’s no such thing as a good or bad batch. It’s all bad. We want people to understand that probably fentanyl is in this mix, which is what’s causing the deaths.”

She said that it's very unusual for York County to experience so many overdoses so close together. There have been 26 confirmed opioid overdose detahs in the county this year, half of which have taken place in the past week and a half, according to ABC 27

“We have had two days where we have had three in each 24-hour period,” said Gay. “That’s six overdose deaths in two days.”

Gay said that family members of people with addiction and people in recovery should watch their loved ones even more closely than usual. 

“Definitely stay close to your loved one,” she said. “If you know that they’re a user and they’re trying to get sober or they’re in recovery, that’s when they’re very vulnerable. Stay close to them. Know what they’re doing.”

Although Gay said she is praying that the overdose rate slows, she does not expect that to happen. “Our hope would be that we would have less deaths this year. To be realistic, we’ve kind of suspected for a few years our deaths are going to continue to probably continue to be high volume,” she said. 

District Attorney Dave Sunday said that he was sad and disappointed when he heard about the recent overdoses. However, he encouraged law enforcement to take an aggressive approach to punishing those responsible. 

“Police investigate every overdose death like they would any other murder,” he said. “They look for evidence, they talk to witnesses, and they utilize all their criminal investigative skills to find out who dealt those drugs.”

In York County, drug dealers can be charged with drug delivery resulting in death, which carries a sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison. 

Recently, Darren Robinson, 23, pled guilty to a charge related to the May 2016 overdose death of Skyler Montgomery. Robinson will serve 5 to 20 years in prison for delivering the fentanyl that killed Montgomery, the York Daily Record reported

“I’m extremely sorry for what happened,” Robinson said at the sentencing. “All I can say is I’m truly sorry.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.