More than 70 people overdose in a single day in New Haven

Henrietta Brewer
August 17, 2018

Numerous overdoses occurred on or near the New Haven Green, a large downtown park, and could be linked to "K2" synthetic marijuana that was laced with another drug, New Haven Fire Chief John Alston told reporters at a news conference Wednesday.

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

A "mass overdose" appears to have taken place in a CT park today (Aug. 15), according to news reports. A city official said more than a dozen people fell ill from suspected drug overdoses on the green and were taken to local hospitals.

Some of the New Haven victims tested positive for the powerful opioid fentanyl, also blamed for overdoses, but authorities believe this week's overdoses were caused exclusively by synthetic marijuana.

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.

One arrest has been made in connection with the overdoses. He said the Green has become "a place of despair" and "no longer an attraction for families or economic development". Most were taken to the hospital, except for four people who refused treatment.

Dozens of people suffering from apparent overdoses were transported to local hospitals from the New Haven Green, according to Rick Fontana, director of the city's Office of Emergency Operations.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said Wednesday that the state Department of Public Health and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services were assisting New Haven with the rash of overdoses. As Fontana was talking to reporters late in the morning, the fire radio crackled with reports of two more people down on the green, and police, medics and firefighters ran or drove to aid the latest victims a few hundred yards away.

Synthetic weed known as K2 may be to blame for a spate of overdoses in New Haven, Conn.

On average, two people die of a drug overdose every day in CT.

Early reports indicated that 47 people had overdosed, but The Hartford Courant reports that the number of cases had risen to 71 by about 10 p.m. Wednesday. Synthetic cannabinoids are often laced with other drugs, such as opioids, officials said.

Emergency responders spent several hours today working to treat the victims and transport them to the hospital. Three more overdoses were reported at the Green Tuesday night, but officials could not confirm whether they were related.

So far, no deaths have been reported. "And after about the sixth one", Alston said.

"Do not come down to the Green and purchase this K2", Anthony Campbell, the New Haven police chief, told WVIT-TV.

EMTs administered Naloxone, an antidote for narcotic overdoses, to some victims but it didn't appear to be effective.

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