Mass Overdose Leaves Connecticut Park Strewn with Dozens of Drugged-Out Victims

Henrietta Brewer
August 17, 2018

Sirens blared throughout the afternoon.

The DEA is helping to investigate how at least 76 people overdosed in New Haven, Connecticut in the past 24 hours.

New Haven first responders were called to a similar overdose outbreak on the Green on July 4, when more than a dozen people became sick from synthetic marijuana. No deaths have been reported.

NBC News reported that the Yale-New Haven Hospital received seven patients and some were in critical condition.

Authorities said the patients had smoked "K2", a synthetic cannabinoid, mixed with the powerful opioid fentanyl.

Police said they arrested 37-year-old Felix Melendez, who was out on parole prior to his arrest, according to the Register; he's believed to be connected to at least some of the overdoses in the park. The identities of those people weren't immediately released.

Federal officials last month issued a warning about the spread of synthetic marijuana across the country.

"Cannabinoids are chemicals. They are manufactured in laboratories, they can also be naturally occurring in herbs like marijuana and the difference between the laboratory strain is that it's much more potent".

Social workers and mental health professionals also responded to the New Haven Green, where most of the overdoses happened Wednesday.

Officials were testing the blood of the victims to see exactly what they ingested. "Whatever they're putting in it, people are dropping", Driffin told The New Haven Independent.

Officials described a hectic scene as emergency crews worked to respond to all of the overdose reports.

Alston said drug overdoses in New Haven, as in other cities, are at epidemic proportions and that the city is in the grip of a public health crisis. In May, for example, 25 people were hospitalized in one area of Brooklyn, New York, after having negative reactions to what was believed to be K2, police said.

At one point Wednesday shouts interrupted a news conference with the fire chief to alert authorities to another overdose.

"We've heard from people on the green that it potentially included PCP".

"Another person down." Two minutes later: "And another. this is unbelievable".

The response from emergency responders has been "tremendous", Fontana said. "We're pretty beat up".

In New Haven, Fire Chief John Alston Jr told reporters the opiate problem is a far-reaching one. Some individual cigarettes can be purchased for as little as $2. Chronic use has shown results of kidney and heart disease.

The overdoses were concentrated on the New Haven Green but because it's now dark the incident is beginning to branch out to different parts of the city, where more people are being found, police said.

Other reports by iNewsToday