Dozens Hospitalized In Mass Overdose At Connecticut Park

Numerous overdoses occurred on or near the New Haven Green, a large downtown park, and could be linked to "K2" synthetic marijuana that was laced with another drug, New Haven Fire Chief John Alston told reporters at a news conference Wednesday.

Most of those overdoses also happened at the New Haven green, the wire service said. More than 70 people fell ill from suspected drug overdoses on the green and were taken to local hospitals.

A new report estimated a record 72,000 Americans died previous year from drug overdoses, a rise of around 10 percent, the Centres for Disease Control said on Wednesday. They are still awaiting toxicology tests to confirm the exact substance. The police chief says they firmly believe the person in custody is responsible for at least some of the overdoses.

It's not yet clear what exactly sparked the suspected mass overdose, but authorities said they received reports that people were smoking in the area. Three of the people who overdosed died after taking cocaine that had been laced with fentanyl, over a dozen others were hospitalized.

New Haven police said they expect to release more information about their investigation on Thursday.

Paramedics sprinted from patient to patient in a park overlooked by Yale University buildings as users began to show symptoms including vomiting, hallucination and unconsciousness. By late Wednesday night there had been no deaths reported.

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Fire, police, and EMS personnel have said they will continue to staff a command post on the New Haven Green in case of further overdoses.

Fontana added that a commonly used anti-opioid-overdose drug did not seem to help when given in the park, although benefits were seen when it was given in a higher dose in the hospital. "Let's address it that way", he said.

WVIT reports that the man arrested "is believed connected to at least some of the overdoses" and "had drugs on him at the time of his arrest, [but] has yet to be charged in any of the overdose cases".

Fontana said 72 people were brought to hospitals and four refused to be treated or transported to hospitals.

An official in the city said earlier there were a total of 25 overdoses over a three-hour span and that some overdoses were "in multiples of 4-6 at a time". "Narcan was not effective here at the scene", said Alston.

"Today's emergency is deeply troubling and illustrative of the very real and serious threat that illicit street drugs pose to health of individuals", the Democratic governor said in a statement.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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