2 suspected fatal drug overdoses raise county total to 12 for year

Incidents leading to death in first 4 months equal full-year 2016 total

Two people died of what are believed to be opiate overdoses over the weekend and a third overdose was reported Monday morning at an apartment complex parking lot in Columbus.

The two deaths bring the county’s overdose death total to 12 so far this year, said Jay Frederick, Bartholomew County deputy coroner.

The 12 overdose fatalities in the first four months of this year matches the number of overdose deaths in Bartholomew County reported for the entire 12 months of 2016 reporter by then-Coroner Larry Fisher.

Frederick said four of the 12 deaths so far this year are confirmed to be heroin-related, and another four are pending toxicology results but are suspected to involve heroin.

Two of the 2017 overdose deaths have involved cocaine, one involved hydrocodone, and another was a non-controlled medication, which has been ruled a suicide. All the other manners of death have been ruled as accidental, Frederick said.

In comparison, from Jan. 1 to April 24, 2016, the county had six overdose death cases, Frederick said, all involving opiate/opioid drugs.

Frederick said at least five of the early 2016 cases involved heroin.

The first death this past weekend was a 30-year-old male found dead in his home in the 1600 block of Franklin Street on Friday afternoon, Frederick said. It is being investigated as an opiate overdose, pending toxicology results, he said.

Columbus police officers did not attempt to revive the victim with naloxone as he already was deceased when they arrived at about 5 p.m., said Lt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department spokesman.

The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s department investigated the death of 53-year-old female found in a residence in the 10000 block of South County Road 500E, south of Elizabethtown, the coroner’s office said.

Deputies were sent to the residence at 11:10 p.m. Sunday, and found the woman deceased with a syringe still in her arm, deputies said. Other drug-related paraphernalia was found nearby, and detectives and narcotics unit investigators were called, deputies said. Additional syringes were found at the home.

The female’s death also has strong indications of a heroin overdose and the coroner’s office is awaiting toxicology results, Frederick said.

Meanwhile, Columbus police were called to the Pence Place Apartments, in the 500 block of Pence Avenue, at 10:07 a.m. Monday about a possible overdose of an individual in a vehicle in the apartment complex parking lot. No further information about that investigation was available late Monday.

Sheriff Matt Myers, in a statement Monday afternoon, said his department was committed to slowing the flow of heroin into the county. “If you are dealing heroin, we will do everything within our power to catch you and hold you accountable for spreading this poison to our citizens.”

Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.