On Wednesday, New Haven, Connecticut, underwent a lengthy day of horrific overdoses, all caused by what is thought to be one batch of synthetic marijuana, also known as K2.
As many as 76 overdoses occurred in 24 hours. Most of them were at a city park called The Green, but seven occurred between Fair Haven and Westville.
The total # of overdoses stands at 76. At 10p, it was at 71. So those five overdoses took place outside of the Green, according to police. First responders are still at the Green in case more overdoses happen. pic.twitter.com/1VgVOStcbE
— Carmen Chau (@CChauFOX61) August 16, 2018
According to the New Haven Register, the 24 hours of started Tuesday night.
— Justin Schecker (@WFLAJustin) August 15, 2018
After three overdoses occurred on The Green Tuesday night, police stationed themselves there to prepare for any other overdoses, City Office of Emergency Management Director Rick Fontana told the Regiswter. The officers were also there to prevent any more buyers from purchasing the synthetic cannabinoid K2, which authorities believed could have been laced with the deadly drug fentanyl.
By Thursday afternoon, according to CNN, there an additional 19 overdoses in the area, bringing the total to 95.
Synthetic marijuana “is plant material sprayed with chemicals that mimic the high from real marijuana,” according to Fox News.
Fontana confirmed that 71 people had overdosed between 8 a.m. and 9:28 p,m, on Wednesday. That number increased as the night went on.
According to Fox News, call after call came in to the police department, as bystanders would pass by and spot victims drop, one by one.
“We have a guy laid out in the alley way, unresponsive, eyes wide open. He’s out cold,” an unidentified bystander said as they stood on The Green, according to the Register.
Another bystander called 911 after spotting a man acting strangely.
“All I know is that he was sitting on the chair first, then on the ground, back on the chair and then back on the ground, shaking like crazy,” the caller said.
“This was a particularly odd, rare occasion where (there was) call after call for man down, obviously with symptoms of some kind of overdose, and at the time of getting that patient packaged and transported to the hospital, we’d see another immediately fall down, right there,” Lt. Ernest Jones, an emergency medical technician for the New Haven Fire Department, told the Register.
“At that point, we’d go help that patient, and while helping that patient, another person went down. So it became a domino effect.”
CBS News reported that symptoms were spotted such as “vomiting, hallucinating, high blood pressure, shallow breathing, semi-conscious and unconscious states.”
Police officers and other first responders often use Narcan, the brand name form of the drug naloxone, to revive victims of drug overdoses of this type, but the dosages carried by the New Have officers weren’t strong enough to be effective, Fox News reported. Most of the victims had to be taken to area hospitals were they were treated with a series of stronger doses before they could be released, according to the Hartford Courant.
Eventually, Police Chief Anthony Campbell took to camera to urge citizens not to purchase this K2:
“Do not come down to the Green and purchase this K2,” he told WVIT-TV. “It is taking people out very quickly, people having respiratory failure. Don’t put your life in harm.”
Police did end up arresting 37-year-old identifed as Felix Melendez in connection with the overdoses, the Courant reported. He has a lengthy, drug-related criminal history, with an arrest as recent as May.
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