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Two killed in Syracuse apartment died of fentanyl exposure, officials say

A fentanyl test strip is used to detect fentanyl in a drug sample. Such test strips cost about $1 apiece.
Jesse Costa
A fentanyl test strip is used to detect fentanyl in a drug sample. Such test strips cost about $1 apiece.

Authorities said they now have the answer about a drug involved in the death of two individuals at a Syracuse apartment complex Wednesday.

Syracuse Fire Chief Michael Monds said state police experts have ruled that fentanyl was involved in the deaths of a 55-year-old and 24-year-old in a Brighton Towers apartment. The incident also sickened 10 others, forcing the shutdown of Upstate University Hospital's emergency room for more than two hours Wednesday.

"Certainly the signs and symptoms of the illnesses that we came across yesterday were direct signs of fentanyl exposure,” Monds said. “No other substances have been confirmed by any other agency at this point."

Fentanyl is a major factor in a majority of opioid overdose deaths locally. There had been concerns xylazine was involved, after it turned up in 40 overdoses in the city of Syracuse in recent days, but so far no official sign of that at this point.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said it is just another example of a raging opioid epidemic that has become worse since the pandemic.

"Given what we’ve been through over the last few years during the pandemic, it has exacerbated many of those addiction and mental health issues,” Walsh said. “And many of the services provided to people during get pandemic, especially the early days. I do think that is a contributing factor."

Monds said toxicology reports on the two victims are expected to be done in a month. They will determine if any substances beyond fentanyl were involved in the overdoses.

“There are toxicology reports on the two deceased,” Monds said. “They take about a month. We could have more information once those tests are done.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.