UPDATE: One of the victims has been identified by her father. See story here.
FAYETTE CO., Tenn — The death of two Fayette County teens to a suspected drug overdose underscores a much bigger problem in the area.
The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office says the girls, who ranged from 16 to 17 years old, died from a possible overdose. A third student was hospitalized but is expected to be okay.
Chief Deputy Ray Garcia says they won’t know exactly what killed the two students until a toxicology report comes back, but he believes this is part of a larger issue in the county and across the country.
“Overdoses are up nationwide. We’ve experienced that same uptick in Fayette County,” said Garcia.
This year alone, the sheriff’s office says they’ve had 42 overdoses. Four of those, including the two last night, have been fatal.
Garcia says they first noticed the uptick near the end of the pandemic in 2021. He says from May of that year to December of 2022, they saw 158 overdoses, with 21 of them being fatal. Many of the overdoses have been due to fentanyl use.
District Attorney Mark Davidson says this incident is unusual because the other deadly overdoses haven’t involved victims this young. “Dealers are out for a profit, and they don’t care about lives, and people are dying from the poison they’re dealing.”
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Davidson says they aren’t sure what caused the spike but encourages parents to have conversations with their kids about the dangers of drug use. “If you’re a drug dealer and you deliver a substance like methamphetamine, and it has fentanyl in it, and somebody dies, we can, and we will charge you with second-degree murder and we’ll prosecute that case.”
Chief Deputy Garcia says it’s still too early to determine whether anyone will face charges in the teen’s death. As of right now, it’s still an open investigation.