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County Coroner's report shows drug-related deaths nearly doubling

County Coroner's report shows drug-related deaths nearly doubling

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- The Yakima County Coroner released his annual summary for the county and it shows drug-related deaths are on the rise.

According to the report, there were 44 drug-related deaths throughout the county in 2017, up from 26 the year before. County Coroner Jack Hawkins said we're on track to break records this year.

"At this point, like 15or 20 that are overdoses and we're halfway through the year, so looking again at another 30 to 40," Hawkins said.

He said during his 11 years as a coroner, he's seen the type of drugs used change. In his report, almost half of the deaths from 2017 are from meth and amphetamine.

He said he is also seeing multiple drugs show up in toxicology reports.

And most of the people dying from drug overdoses in our county are white men in their 20s and 30s.

Hawkins said he doesn't see the number of drug-related deaths dropping anytime soon.

"It's not going to let up," he said. "Every year it gets more and more and of course the county grows every year and there's more people, more activity."

With drug overdoses on the rise, the Yakima County Sheriff's Office (YCSO) is using Narcan, which can reverse drug effects.

YCSO Deputy Kevin Beehler said he's been on duty for three and a half years and has noticed their calls to overdose cases increase.

"It seems more common now, the opioids do but there's still the meth overdoses that we deal with," Beehler said. "We get a call for an overdose, it could be literally anything, could be alcohol, could be any prescription drug."

He said a few months ago he had to use Narcan on a woman who was overdosing.

"They don't know how or if she took too much or if she just had a bad reaction," he said. "I had brought my Narcan in with me just in case, within 30 seconds to a minutes she started improving. She needed some more from the fire guys once they got in there."

Beehler said they've only had the tool for a few months, but using Narcan on someone can be the difference between life and death.

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