Nine dead, more than 75 affected as Austin overdose surge begins to slow

Preliminary toxicology reports for the nine people who died show that fentanyl was present in their systems.

By Olivia Aldridge, KUT NewsMay 2, 2024 2:34 pm, ,

From KUT News:

A spate of suspected overdoses that began in Austin early this week has now climbed to 79 cases, an Austin-Travis County EMS representative said Thursday. The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office said nine have died. It is the largest surge in local drug overdoses since 2015.

However, overdose-related calls appear to be slowing, ATCEMS division chief Angela Carr said at a news briefing Wednesday evening. She attributed this trend to the widespread distribution of Narcan, a medication that can reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.

“As of this afternoon, we have distributed over 400 doses of Narcan in just over 48 hours, and we’re happy to report that it appears to be making an impact,” Carr said. “While we continue to see overdose cases across the city, the incident numbers are declining.”

ATCEMS had responded to seven overdoses by Wednesday evening, compared to 37 on Monday and 27 on Tuesday. No pediatric deaths have occurred, but one person in their late teens experienced an overdose.

Preliminary toxicology reports from the Travis County medical examiner show that fentanyl was present in all nine deaths, said Travis County public information officer Hector Nieto. Cocaine was also present in eight cases and methamphetamine in three.

ATCEMS public information officer Christa Stedman said that overdose patients reported using a variety of drugs.

“People are not necessarily attempting to take an opiate. They’re using K2, they’re using crack cocaine, Xanax, a number of other substances,” she said. “Whatever is doing this is making its way into everything, and that’s why we need everybody to be alert.”

ATCEMS authorities reiterated that the public should continue to avoid taking drugs that have not been prescribed by a physician.

“Obviously, we would never encourage folks to use unknown substances … but for those who are going to use those drugs, we encourage folks to start low, go slow and never use alone,” said Dr. Heidi Abraham, chief deputy medical director for ATCEMS. “You should always have a sober friend with you who has Narcan available and can call 911 if necessary.”

The Austin Police Department’s investigation into the source of the drugs that caused the deadly string of overdoses is ongoing, with two people detained and identified as persons of interest so far.

If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it here. Your gift helps pay for everything you find on and Thanks for donating today.