Fatal drug overdoses spike in Lancaster County

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – In the past three weeks, 16 people have died in Lancaster County from drug-related overdoses.

Coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni told ABC27 News the deaths have happened all over the county.

“We have a crisis,” Diamantoni said. “We have an epidemic.”

Diamantoni said the youngest victim in the past three weeks is a 16-year-old.

“We’re seeing a particular spike in the number of deaths from heroin,” he said. “Recently, heroin is mixed with fentanyl or some additional synthetic fentanyl products.”

Experts say fentanyl is added to heroin to make it stronger.

In July, York County officials saw a similar spike, but in the same three-week period they saw only four drug overdose deaths.

Authorities told ABC27 News that heroin can be purchased for just $5 a bag.

District Attorney Craig Stedman worries the prescription drug database the state is using to track addicts will force some folks to turn to heroin.

“I know that other counties are charging more than ever before with the drug deal resulting in death,” he said. “We’re doing it, too. That could be because we’re taking this more seriously, but because we have more of them.”

Stedman said prosecutors will do what they can to stop the problem, but he worries things will get worse before getting better.

“What I need help with is the other aspect, really the broader solution, which is prevention and education out there and getting to people before they get into this addiction,” he said.

Stedman said he fears another spike could be on the way. He said another heroin coming to the Midstate is laced with elephant tranquilizer and is much deadlier.

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