A suspect pleaded guilty to a number of charges in court Monday after being accused of sparking a near fatal fentanyl overdose in a Ohio police officer in spring 2017.
Justin Buckel, 25, faced several drug charges and one count of assault on a police officer stemming from a traffic stop in May that exposed an officer to fentanyl — a potent synthetic opioid roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. A judge sentenced Buckel, who was suspected of running drugs in connection to a larger distribution ring, to more than six years in prison Monday, FOX 8 reported.
Ohio East Liverpool Police Department Officer Chris Green assisted in a traffic stop with other officers who boxed in a vehicle suspected of smuggling narcotics May 12. Buckel attempted to flee but first tried to dispose of the narcotics by dumping the drugs out in the vehicle, leaving fentanyl powder all over his car and cloths.
Green led a search of the vehicle and got powder on his uniform. Green passed out and became unresponsive an hour later back at the station. It took emergency responders multiple attempts to revive Green with overdose reversal drug Narcan.
“They gave him one dose of Narcan here and then transported him to East Liverpool City Hospital, where they gave him three additional doses of Narcan,” East Liverpool Capt. Patrick Wright told WSB-TV in May 2017.
Less than half a teaspoon of pure fentanyl is enough to kill 10 people.
Opioids are killing a record number of people in Ohio, which now has the second highest death rate from drug overdoses in the U.S. behind West Virginia only.
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The state lost 4,329 residents to drug overdoses in 2016, a 24 percent increase over the previous year, fueled by the worsening opioid epidemic that is spreading death throughout the country. Nearly 40 per 100,000 people in the state now die from a drug-related overdoses in Ohio.
“We’ve got a big problem in Ohio,” Dublin Police Chief Heinz von Eckartsberg recently told The Columbus Dispatch. “Fentanyl is powerful and more intense. People are putting stuff in their veins that’s going to kill them.”
The number of opioid deaths would be much higher without the presence of overdose reversal drug naloxone, or Narcan, officials said. Ohio first responders administered roughly 43,000 doses of naloxone in 2016.
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