“Fentanyl is still the number one killer and it’s growing every year,” Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook said.
The longtime coroner has seen it all, but is troubled by fentanyl creeping into the majority of drug-related deaths, recently mixed with cocaine and methamphetamine.
“It’s incredibly disconcerting how much fentanyl there is and I’ve often said I don’t understand why they would sell fentanyl to people who know
it’s going to kill them,” Cook added.
Pennsylvania State Police are seeing the same trend in the drug-related deaths they investigate. ‘It’s very deadly,’ said Private Andrew Hacke, ‘and unfortunately you know that 23% of the overdose cases we’re going to do result in death, so we’re talking about a quarter of the overdose cases we’re looking at. find and fentanyl is usually implicated in these cases.”
State Police Community Services Officer Private Hacke says mixing the drugs and fentanyl could be deadly for even a hardened drug addict, but for a newbie? “Unfortunately, when you have someone who hasn’t developed that tolerance and they get the same kind of medication that was delivered to them, that’s when it becomes a lethal dose for them,” Hacke said.
Coroner Cook has just compiled drug death statistics for 2021. He said of 102 drug-related deaths investigated last year, many people had lethal levels of multiple drugs in their system, but fentanyl was in 80% of those deaths. Methamphetamine was a factor in 35% of deaths, cocaine was a factor in 26% of deaths while heroin, once the big local concern, has fallen to just 6%.