Union City police face 5 separate fentanyl overdoses, 2 deaths in 24 hours

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Thursday, September 7, 2023
Union City police face 5 separate fentanyl overdoses in 24 hours
Union City saw five different fentanyl overdoses in 24 hours. In two cases, people died.

UNION CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- Fentanyl overdoses and deaths have been a big problem in San Francisco for years. Just this week, a much smaller Bay Area city got hit hard.

Union City saw five different fentanyl overdoses in 24 hours. In two cases, people died.

This week, Narcan, the emergency medicine that reverses an opioid-related overdose, became available nationwide without a prescription.

Sergeant Jean Jimenez has never needed to use his supply of Narcan to help save a person's life. But other officers have.

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'Each officer in Union City is equipped with Narcan. We've been carrying it since 2018," Jimenez said.

In the past 24 hours, Union City Police responded to five different fentanyl drug overdoses -- including two at an industrial business park on Western Avenue.

"One individual was found in a restroom unconscious, gasping for air, and the other one was in a parked vehicle in the park lot in the same area unconscious, gasping for air also," Jimenez said.

Narcan saved their lives.

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Not far away, at Medallion Drive and Whipple Road, another case. That person ended up dying.

Of the five total fentanyl overdoses in Union City, two people died, including a 17-year-old.

"Certainly, the last 24 hours -- it's very shocking. It just goes to show that it doesn't just happen in big cities," Jimenez said. "It can happen in a small city like Union City."

The mayor of Union City says she's deeply disturbed by the latest development.

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"That's just a tragedy. And anything we can do to prevent that in the future is so important," said Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci.

Starting this week, people across the country can pick up Narcan at a local drug store without a prescription.

"I think the easy access of Narcan is important," said Dutra-Vernaci. "It's sadly come to this point. But if it is about saving a life, hopefully that life being productive, that's what it's all about."

Michael Snow is an overdose prevention educator with HEPPAC --The HIV Education and Prevention Project of Alameda County.

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"We train how to administrate the Narcan in the event of an overdose," Snow said.

Snow says the five fentanyl overdoses in Union City are alarming.

"Very alarming. Something that definitely needs to be addressed in response. There definitely needs to be more education around Narcan/the dangers of overdose," Snow said.

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Snow, the mayor of Union City and Jimenez say, making Narcan more readily available is a much needed step toward combating the fentanyl problem.

"It's an added tool," Snow said. "Yeah, we'll welcome any tool that will do that."

Assemblymember Liz Ortega released this statement Wednesday afternoon: "We are in a state of emergency, and we need to act now to ensure that we don't lose more of our neighbors and loved ones to an overdose. That's why I've authored AB1060, which would save lives by capping the cost of Narcan at $10 per package, making this life-saving drug accessible to every parent, caregiver, and community member."

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