York County coroner: 3 suspected heroin ODs in 5 hours

Written by Gordon Rago/York Daily Record | Dec 1, 2016 8:37 AM

A piece of artwork in Lebanon consisted of various heroin-themed scenes. There was an uptick in overdose deaths, suspected to be related to heroin, on Wednesday in York County. (Photo: Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News)

There have been 50 confirmed heroin deaths so far this year.

(York) -- Three people died on Wednesday in York County of suspected heroin-related drug overdoses -- all in the span of about five hours, according to the county coroner.

The sudden uptick signals to Coroner Pam Gay that more people will overdose from heroin in the near future. There have been 50 confirmed heroin-related deaths so far in 2016 with 16 more suspected. The three fatal overdoses Wednesday are included in the 16 tallied, Gay said.

"When we see them during the week, we get concerned that usage is increasing or there's something more potent," Gay said of the overdoses.

She pointed to Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that has caused a number of deaths in York County in the last year and can be far more potent than heroin.

Gay was quick to add that the deaths Wednesday have not been confirmed as heroin-related, as toxicology reports can take weeks to get.

A breakdown of the heroin-related overdose deaths in York County Sean Heisey, York Daily Record

Gay conferred with the York County District Attorney's Office about the deaths, saying that the DA's office had already alerted detectives of the uptick in deaths.

She took to social media to get word out, encouraging people to call 911 if someone is overdosing and to administer Narcan if available.

Gay declined to provide details about the three people who died Wednesday. She says the police departments are investigating their deaths and that she is still reaching out to one person's family.

The deaths happened in three separate parts of York County.

At this point, Gay does not think there is a "bad batch" of heroin.

There were 65 confirmed heroin-related deaths in 2015.

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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