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Overdose Deaths Rise; Officials Ask Community to Help

John Gibson

NEA Special Agent Michael Gannon addresses reporters at the Vanderburgh County Proseuctor's Office.

Officials say fatal drug overdoses are surging in Evansville and Vanderburgh County. 

Coroner Steve Lockyear told reporters at the Prosecutor’s Office that this year’s overdose deaths will easily beat last year’s total.

"We had 67 total cases. We are at 56 as of today. Those numbers are about six weeks behind. I know we have about 14 pending cases right now that we believe are probably going to be additional drug overdose cases."

Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent Michael Gannon said the biggest problem is the powerful synthetic opioid, fentanyl.

"A lot of the precursor chemicals from fentanyl are coming from China, they're going to Mexico, the cartels are setting up their labs in Mexico and they're flooding the United States with counterfeit oxycodon pills that are laced with fentanyl."

Prosecutor Nick Hermann warned that a tiny amount of fentanyl can be lethal.

"When you take a pill that you didn't get from a doctor through a pharmacy you don't know if it has fentanyl. You don't know if that pill or half a pill or a quarter pill will kill you. And if that's a good enough reason to get help I don't know what is."

Officials announced the arrest of Todd Gardner for allegedly selling a fentanyl-laced half-pill to Zachary Goodin, who was found dead in April.

Phone records led investigators to Gardner.

Officials urged the community to get help for loved ones who are addicted.