Three people died from heroin overdoses on Saturday and one person was taken to Harborview to be treated for an overdose, according to Seattle police. Bicycle officers are warning users along the Aurora Avenue corridor of dangerous purity levels.
Seattle police bicycle officers were canvassing the Aurora Avenue North corridor Saturday to warn heroin users of dangerous purity levels after four people overdosed by early afternoon.
Three people died and a fourth person was taken to Harborview Medical Center for treatment, said Seattle Police Department spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb.
“Our bike officers are reaching out to people they know with chemical-dependency issues and spreading the word that this particular batch has had some tragic and fatal outcomes,” Whitcomb said.
He said the working theory is that all of the victims bought heroin from the same person, given the timing and geographic proximity of the overdoses.
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According to information provided by Whitcomb and the Seattle Fire Department’s Real Time 911 website, medics responded to the 7800 block of Aurora Avenue North at 11:18 a.m., then the 900 block of North 80th Street at 1:23 p.m., and less than 20 minutes later, to the 900 block of North 102nd Street at 1:40 p.m.
The first incident involved two people found unresponsive in a parked car; both died, Whitcomb said. He did not have details on where the two others were found. At least one of the overdose victims was a woman, he said.
Whitcomb said police are concerned that Saturday’s overdoses may involve heroin laced with fentanyl, a potent, synthetic opioid. He said officials with Public Health — Seattle & King County have been alerted to the overdoses and will be investigating further, along with the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Whitcomb said people need to remember that they can call 911 to report an overdose without fear of prosecution under the state’s good Samaritan law.
Anyone wishing to dispose of heroin or other drugs can call 911 or contact officers at one of the city’s five precincts. Police also are encouraging people who feel they need to use heroin to be sure not to do so alone.
“From a practical standpoint, if you have to use, if you’re going to use, don’t do it alone — and don’t have the other person get high at the same time,” Whitcomb said. “Have someone who can call 911 and start CPR. We have naloxone. We can save your life — we just need to be called.”
In March, bicycle officers in Seattle started carrying naloxone, a drug that can immediately reverse overdoses caused by opiates, including heroin.
Since then, police officers have saved 15 people by administering naloxone and “there’s probably countless more” who’ve been saved by Seattle firefighters, who also carry the drug, Whitcomb said.
Overdose deaths linked to heroin fell by 15 percent in King County in 2015, according to figures released last July, but health and law-enforcement officials warned then that the problem was not necessarily waning.
Heroin was involved in 132 deaths in the county in 2015, down from a peak of 156 deaths in 2014. But that’s still higher than the 99 heroin deaths in 2013.
A local task force in September recommended opening what could be the first public sites in the U.S. where drug addicts can inject and smoke hard drugs under supervision, and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray went to Vancouver, B.C., to tour that city’s facility.