Two people died and a total of seven drug overdoses were reported between Thursday and Sunday in Beaufort County in what one veteran law enforcement officer called a “disturbing” trend.
“It’s disturbing because we saw a downward trend in 2018,” Capt. Bob Bromage, spokesperson for the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, said Monday. “And now we’re seeing an increase again ... .”
In January 2018, the Sheriff’s Office responded to a total of four overdoses, Bromage said.
The most recent fatal overdoses were reported on Hilton Head and in Bluffton.
In the Bluffton case, the victim overdosed and survived only to die of a second overdose about 12 hours later, the Sheriff’s Office said. The non-fatal overdoses were reported in both those towns and on Lady’s Island, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Most of the overdose cases are believed to involve opioids: heroin, fentanyl and other pain medications, a Monday morning Sheriff’s Office news release said.
Bromage said each of the recent cases are being investigated individually in an effort to find the source of the drugs.
Here’s what happened by day:
Thursday and Friday
The first report was at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at a home on Sawmill Forest Drive in Bluffton, according to a Sheriff’s Office report. A man found his girlfriend unconscious and gave her Narcan (a life-saving drug used to reverse an overdose), the report said. She regained consciousness and began breathing again before being taken to the hospital, the report said.
Less than 12 hours later, around 5 a.m. Friday, deputies returned to the same home and found the same woman unresponsive and face down in the fetal position in the shower with a syringe nearby. She was taken by EMS to Hilton Head Hospital where she was pronounced dead, the report said.
The second death came between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday when a man was found in a Chinaberry Ridge home on Hilton Head, according to a report.
The man’s roommates found him lying on the bathroom floor with “suspicious items sitting on the sink next to (him), possibly drug paraphernalia,” including a white powdery substance, the report said.
Just after 3 a.m. Sunday, a man was found unconscious on the front steps of his Lady’s Island home, a report said. His lips were purple, his breathing labored, and he had several older “track marks” on his arm, a report said.
A deputy gave the man two doses of Narcan and he began to regain consciousness as EMS arrived, the report said. He was taken to Beaufort Memorial Hospital.
The final three overdoses from the weekend were reported at the same time at Mickey’s Pub and Grill on Hilton Head on Sunday night, according to a Sheriff’s Office report.
One of the three men who overdosed at the bar said he saw a group of people passing cocaine around and “partook.” He later told deputies he did not know any of the people who were using the drug or who supplied it, the report said.
A second man said he was “hanging out” when someone offered him cocaine. He said he did two “lines.”
A third man said he took a “bump,” the report said.
All three men said that after consuming the cocaine they woke up in the hospital or with EMS surrounding them, the report said.
Monday’s news release from the Sheriff’s Office came in the form of a warning in which users were directed to agencies that could help them overcome addiction.
“For those addicted to opiates and other dangerous drugs, there is treatment and support available in Beaufort County,” the release said. “We urge you to get help.”
On Jan. 9, the Sheriff’s Office released a similar informational warning after “several” drug overdoses were reported the previous weekend.
In 2017, 26 people died from drug overdoses across Beaufort County, 17 of them opiate related, according to Janet Horton, the county’s administrative deputy coroner.
In 2018, there were 12 overdose deaths in the county, five of them opiate related, Horton said.
Bromage said the number of reported overdoses this weekend are not final because other agencies may have responded and sometimes report them differently than the Sheriff’s Office.