A mass overdose on Aug. 15, near Yale University left at least 76 people ill, caused by what’s suspected to be a batch of synthetic marijuana, known as K2.
Many of the cases took place at the New Haven Green, a park near the university where a similar mass overdose took place on July 4.
Three overdoses took place on Tuesday night, with dozens of others happening on Wednesday.
“Bodies are literally dropping all around me from suspected drug overdoses,” said Mario Boone, a journalist who was at the park, via Twitter. “I’ve never seen anything quite this bad happening at once.”
NBC reported that the majority of the 76-plus overdoses took place on or near the Green. Seventy-twopeople were rushed to nearby hospitals while four refused medical care. Video footage showed some of the patients fighting with paramedics as the paramedics attempted to administer aid, even as the emergency responders sprinted around the park as new victims became visible due to intense seizures.
Bodies are literally dropping all around me from suspected drug overdoses despite massive effort by #NewHaven cops & fire. I've never seen anything quite this bad happening at once. .@WTNH #CTnews pic.twitter.com/bQhlmNMkw7
— Mario Boone, Jou. (@MarioBooneTV) August 15, 2018
Overdoses Started Early
People suffering from the suspected overdoses were found beginning at 7:30 a.m., with more cases appearing throughout the day, showing symptoms of vomiting, nausea, or even unconsciousness.
Initial tests from the Drug Enforcement Agency indicated that the victims had ingested pure K2, a synthetic drug marketed as similar to marijuana.
While local officials had believed the K2 may have been laced with something stronger such as an opiate, the initial tests revealed no additives. Some of the people on the Green said they thought the K2 was laced with PCP.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, K2 or other synthetic cannabinoids alone can be deadly even without additives.
“They are not safe and may affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana; their actual effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, more dangerous or even life-threatening,” the institute stated.
“Synthetic cannabinoids act on the same brain cell receptors as THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the mind-altering ingredient in marijuana. So far, there have been few scientific studies of the effects of synthetic cannabinoids on the human brain, but researchers do know that some of them bind more strongly than marijuana to the cell receptors affected by THC, and can produce much stronger effects. The resulting health effects can be unpredictable and dangerous.”
Part of Opiate Crisis
New Haven Fire Chief John Alston Jr. linked the overdoses to the opiate crisis that has hit pockets of people nationwide in recent years, during a press conference. Just this week, federal officials said drug overdose deaths hit more than 71,500 in 2017.
“People are self-medicating for several different reasons and every agency—police, fire, medical, hospitals—all are strained at this time. This is a problem that’s not going away,” Alston said.
America’s jails have also been swamped by the opioid crisis.
Police officers arrested a person of interest believed to be linked to the mass overdose on the New Haven Green on Aug. 15, but he has not been charged as of yet.