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Coroner Links Crash With Multiple Fatalities To Opioid Intoxication

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter

A car crash involving multiple fatalities and injuries last week in Ohio may be the result of opioid intoxication, according to a Cincinnati coroner.

The April 17 crash occurred on Gray Road near Spring Grove Village after a Mazda crossed the center line into the path of a minivan. The stretch of road is known for accidents due to excessive speeding, local Cincinnati residents in the area of the collision said. However, the collision’s investigators found evidence of opioid use inside the car, they said. Authorities did not give additional information on what kind of drugs officers found but suspect the driver was impaired, WLWT reported.

Sarah Emanuel, the 31-year-old driver of the Mazda, and her passenger, 56-year-old Timothy Brown, were both killed in the crash. The driver of the minivan, 28-year-old Shalisha Brunson, remains in serious condition at a local hospital, while her child escaped uninjured.

The opioid epidemic increasingly threatens the lives of everyone on American roadways, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System’s (FARS) recent data reveals. Traffic accidents linked to fentanyl are experiencing a particularly sharp increase — up 304 percent since 2007 — according to an analysis by Alcohol.org, a website for information on alcohol abuse.

While fentanyl accidents had the largest spike, the analysis also found steep rises in accidents linked to a range of other substances over the past decade. Traffic fatalities linked to the painkiller, oxycodone, rose by 134 percent over the same period.

“The number of fatal car crashes related to the opioid crisis is shocking — particularly with regard to the steep increase in accidents associated with fentanyl,” an Alcohol.org spokesman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “While a fatal overdose can have long lasting effects on the family and friends of a victim, drugged driving accidents impact a far wider audience and put everyone on the road at risk of being the next victim of an opioid overdose.”

The study results reflect previous research showing a surge in deaths linked to prescription painkillers as a result of the worsening opioid epidemic.  The opioid scourge is making roadways across the U.S. more dangerous, accounting for a 700 percent increase in traffic deaths, a July 27, 2017, study found.

New York City’s Columbia University researchers investigated more than two decades of data from the FARS database, with a specific focus on prescription opioids.

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016.

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