opioid crisis

Arlington Teen Dies After Apparent Overdose at High School

Wakefield High School families held a rally Friday morning to show their support for the community

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A teenage boy has died after an apparent opioid overdose at an Arlington, Virginia, high school earlier this week, police said.

The teen died Thursday. Medics rushed him to the hospital Tuesday morning after he was found unresponsive in a school bathroom.

"Cardiac arrest from an OD. Wakefield High School," someone can be heard saying in emergency dispatch audio obtained by News4. "Fourteen-year-old male they advised, was found in the bathroom. Narcan’s been administered. They ordered CPR."

Arlington County police said they're investigating the boy's death. His name has not been released.

On Friday, families braved the bitter cold to rally outside the school and show their support for the community that is now grieving the loss of a student.

One student who asked not to be identified told News4 the boy who died was his best friend.

"He was like a brother to me. We used to walk around, make jokes with other friends," he said.

"He wasn’t a bad person, and he was a good person. So seeing a good person end up in this situation is just terrible," Wakefield High School student Desteny Lopez said.

A student told News4 via a video call that drug use has been an ongoing issue at the school.

"Very just shocking to see it happening in my own school during the morning before first period would even start," she said. She did not want to be named.

The student said the school needs more substance abuse counselors.

Medics evaluated four other students on Tuesday, police said. Their exact conditions are unknown.

"I think we’ve gotta protect young people. This should be a safe place, and now it’s hitting home," said Jorge Nava, the former vice principal for Wakefield High School.

Wakefield High School canceled classes Friday after the teen’s overdose, then a scare over a possible armed intruder on school property on Thursday.

"It’s stressful, it’s sad, and having two lockdowns in a week should not be something that should be normal or should happen anywhere around the U.S.," Lopez said.

The News4 I-Team has been looking into how local jurisdictions have been responding to overdoses and the deployment of Narcan. Investigative Reporter Tracee Wilkins breaks down the numbers.

Spike in Teen Overdoses in the D.C. Area

Teens across the D.C. area are some of the latest victims of the opioid crisis.

Arlington police shared treatment resources and information on confronting drug addictions as law enforcement agencies around the D.C. area warn of dangerous, deadly drugs.

The Drug Enforcement Administration told News4 it's looking into what happened at the school, and that typically in overdose cases involving students, agents try to go after the drug dealers.

"Keeping those people that are responsible for distributing this poison, responsible on the federal system," DEA Washington Special Agent Jarod Forget said. Forget is in charge of the DEA's investigation.

Real prescription oxycodone pills and fakes laced with fentanyl are often indistinguishable. The DEA said they’re illegally made in a crude mixing process that can make one pill from the same batch harmless, while another can cause immediate overdose and death.

“These aren't pharmacists making these pills, these are members of cartels, drug traffickers. They're not chemists; they're making these in clandestine labs in Mexico," Forget said.

The suspected overdose at Wakefield comes amid a spike in overdoses involving young people across the D.C. region.

"Takes a little bit, and you can die," Montgomery County Council Member Will Jawando warned students on Monday.

He said five public school students in the county have died of drug overdoses just in January.

A Culpeper County High School student was jailed and two other teens face charges after a 17-year-old girl was found unresponsive Monday at Eastern View High School, the county sheriff says. The teen girl was revived with Narcan.

One father told News4 his daughter graduated from Wakefield High School last year, and overdoses have been an ongoing issue at the school.

"I’m livid about what happened in Wakefield because we have been trying to tell the county schools, the Arlington County Public Schools for over a year that this situation has been going on, overdoses, distribution," Elder Julio Basurto said.

Police are still investigating the apparent overdose at Wakefield and are asking anyone with information to call 703-228-4180 or email ACPDTipline@arlingtonva.us. Information can also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). 

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