13-year-old dies following fentanyl-related overdose at Hartford School

Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A 13-year-old boy died due to his exposure to fentanyl at a school in Hartford last week.

On Saturday just after 5:35 p.m., the boy succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased.

Hartford Police responded to The Sport and Medical Sciences Academy on January 13 on the report of an unconscious male juvenile. CPR was administered upon arrival and the boy was transported to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center for treatment.

Two other individuals complained of dizziness and were also transported to CCMC for evaluation, police said. They were later released from the hospital.

The school entered a “Code Yellow” to shelter in place and multiple drug detecting canines were deployed to the school to do a safety sweep for additional presence of narcotics. Students were dismissed from the school at approximately 3 p.m. without any further issues.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin released a statement Saturday evening, noting that “our city grieves for this child lost, for his loved ones, his friends, his teachers, and the entire SMSA family.”

“We still have much to learn about the circumstances of this tragedy, and about how a child had access to such a shocking quantity of such deadly drugs, and our police [department] will continue their investigation and seek to hold accountable the adults who ultimately are responsible for this child’s death,” Bronin said. “In the meantime, our prayers are with everyone touched by this loss, and we will do everything we can to support the SMSA community.”

At a press conference Friday afternoon, Hartford Police Lt. Aaron Boisvert said investigators found 40 small bags of what was later determined to be fentanyl in powder form during a search of the school. The bags were found in two classrooms and the gymnasium.

Two other students who came in contact with the substance have been released and are at home Boisvert said.

Police said evidence of fentanyl was found close to the 13-year-old seventh-grader.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said initial reports came in Thursday morning of a student unconscious and breathing at the school. The 13-year-old seventh-grader had collapsed in the gym. Bronin said fire personnel arrived quickly and began life-saving measures.

Police believe the three students came into contact with the fentanyl at the same time. Police said they believe a student brought the bags of fentanyl into the school.

The school was placed into a soft lockdown while the DEA and drug-sniffing dogs searched the school for any additional substances.

Before any of the students at the school left for the day, they had to go through a decontamination process.

“Students and teachers and anybody that was in the school had to walk through a solution of bleach and OxiClean, which dissolves and neutralizes the fentanyl before they were allowed to leave the building,” Thody said.

DEEP supervised the decontamination of the school, with crews in hazmat suits scrubbing down the 7th through 12th-grade classrooms and filtering the air to decontaminate the school from fentanyl.

“Fentanyl is a poison, these drugs are a poison, and please if you’re a parent, have that tough conversation with your child tonight, that if anybody offers or suggests that they experiment with or ingest some substance they think is a drug or they don’t know what it is, don’t do it, stay a mile away and for God’s sake please report it so that we can try to protect your child, their friends and every kid,” Bronin said.

The Sport and Medical Sciences Academy was closed Friday and all classes were canceled, according to the school’s principal, Alison Giuliano.

Superintendent of Hartford Schools Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez released a statement Sunday:

“With profound sadness, I informed all Hartford Public Schools families, staff, and partners on Saturday night that our student from Sport and Medical Sciences Academy (SMSA), who was in grave condition at Connecticut Children’s hospital, had passed away. 

I extend my heart and offer my deepest condolences to the student’s family, friends, and loved ones for their loss. I ask that everyone keep the family, friends, and the entire school community at SMSA in their thoughts and prayers.

This tragic loss will raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for our school community, especially our students. Our school and district Crisis Intervention Team has already been assembled and will continue to help with the needs of students, parents, and school personnel.

Our School Social Workers are available on Sunday and Monday for students, families, and staff both in-person and virtually. Clinical Psychologists from Connecticut Children’s hospital will also be available for students, families, and staff on Sunday and Monday by phone to offer emotional health support.

Today, I sent a message to all our families that provided additional resources to help with supporting their child through grief and loss. The message included some ways parents and guardians can begin these difficult conversations with their children, as well as responses to questions that may come up over the next few weeks and months. 

As a community, we will continue to provide additional support and care to students, families, and staff who need it. Once again, I ask that everyone please keep the family, friends, and the entire school community in your hearts as we support each other through this incredible tragedy.”

Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez

The investigation is ongoing.

This is a developing story. Stay with News 8 for updates.

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