Alabama high school student dead, four more sick; prosecutors blame fentanyl

Published 4:45 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2022

One student who died at an Alabama high school and four others who were taken to a hospital probably were sickened by something that had been laced with fentanyl, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson said investigators were awaiting results from an autopsy and toxicology tests before making a final determination, but the powerful painkiller likely was to blame.

“It doesn’t take much to kill you,” he said.

Authorities were called to Selma High School around noon Tuesday after the students began showing signs of health problems, authorities said. One student, identified only as a 16-year-old male sophomore, died, and four others taken to a hospital for evaluation are expected to recover, Jackson said.

School Superintendent Zickeyous Byrd said students who decided not to attend classes on Wednesday wouldn’t be counted as absent.

“When an event of this magnitude touches one family, it affects us all,” Byrd said in a statement.

In a statement, Mayor James Perkins Jr. cautioned against jumping to conclusions about what had occurred and said he knew the victim well.

“Because the deceased is a juvenile, I will not mention him by name. Just know that his death is very close to me,” Perkins said. “I considered him a son.”

Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are driving the nation’s deadliest overdose crisis ever. Overdoses from all drugs claimed more than 100,000 lives for the first time in 2021, and the deaths this year have remained at almost the same level, which is more than gun and auto deaths combined.