News Roundup: Experts Tell House Panel Texas Opioid Death Rate Is Rising 10 Percent Every Year

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Alexandra HartApril 18, 2018 2:09 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Members of the Texas House Committee on Opioid Abuse met yesterday to address the state’s rising rates of opioid deaths. Experts say that since 2014, opioid overdose deaths have been climbing about 10 percent each year. They point to fentanyl and heroin, in particular, as contributors to those deaths.

Matt Feehery with Houston’s Memorial Hermann Prevention and Recovery Center told lawmakers that the state should include a range of treatment options available.

“And for some we know that abstinence from substances may not be more than an ideal, which is why many state and federal responses and strategies are focused on harm reduction – which is preventing accidental death, reducing the spread of communicable diseases such as HIV and Hep C and stopping criminal activities of sustained use,” Feehery says.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there were 1,174 opioid-related deaths in 2015, the most recent data available.

Federal investigators say one person is dead and seven others are injured after a Southwest Airlines flight experienced engine failure mid-flight Tuesday. The Boeing 737 was bound for Dallas from New York when its left engine exploded, breaking a window and killing passenger Jennifer Riordan of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Preliminary reports from the National Transportation Safety Board indicate that the engine showed signs of metal fatigue where one of the engine’s fan blades had broken off.

In a news conference Tuesday, Southwest Airlines Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly said that the company is looking into what went wrong and offered condolences to Riordan’s family

“This is a sad day and on behalf of the entire southwest family I want to express my deepest sympathies to the family and loved one of our deceased customer. They are our immediate and primary concern and we will do all we can to support them during this difficult time and the difficult days ahead,” Kelly said.

Southwest has also said that it will be speeding up inspections for engines like the one that failed.

The incident marks the first fatality for a U.S. airline since 2009, and the first accident-related passenger fatality in Southwest Airlines history.

A Texas-based company that makes bump stocks announced yesterday that it will stop making the device. Slide Fire, the nation’s largest manufacturer of the rifle accessory, said it will end sales May 20.

Bump stocks came under scrutiny after they were found on multiple guns in the hotel room of the Las Vegas shooter, who killed nearly 60 people last October. The devices simulate automatic fire when installed on semi-automatic rifles. Since then, the Bureau of Alcohol, tobacco and firearms has proposed a ban on bump stocks. That proposal is currently in a 90-day comment period ending June 27.