Powerful opioid suspected in 10-year-old Miami boy’s death
A 10-year-old boy from a drug-ridden Miami neighbourhood apparently died of a fentanyl overdose last month, becoming one of Florida’s littlest victims of the opioid crisis, authorities said Tuesday. But how he came in contact with the powerful drug is unclear.
Fifth-grader Alton Banks died June 23 after a visit to the pool in the city’s Overtown section. He began vomiting after coming home and was found unconscious that evening. Preliminary toxicology tests show he had fentanyl in his system, authorities said.
“We don’t know where he got it. We don’t believe he got it at his home,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said. “It could be as simple as touching it. It could have been a towel at the pool.”
She added: “We just don’t know.”
The case has underscored how frighteningly prevalent fentanyl has become — and how potent it is. Exposure to just tiny amounts can be devastating.
Investigators said he may been exposed to the drug on his walk home in Overtown, a poor, high-crime neighbourhood where Assistant Miami Fire Chief Pete Gomez said has seen a spike in overdoses in the past year and where needles sometimes litter the streets
“There is an epidemic,” Gomez said. “Overtown seems to have the highest percentage of where these incidents are occurring.”
Detectives are still trying to piece together the boy’s final day.
Rundle appealed to the public for information on how Alton came into contact with the drug.
“This is of such great importance. We need to solve this case. I believe this may be the youngest victim of this scourge in our community,” she said.
The boy’s mother, Shantell Banks, was informed of the preliminary findings last week. A distraught Banks told The Miami Herald that her son was a “fun kid” who wanted to become an engineer and loved the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, especially Cam Newton.
Jessie Davis, who lives in an apartment house next to the building where the boy lived, said her grandchildren, ages 8, 9 and 10, regularly make the same walk as Alton to the nearby park with a swimming pool. She said she initially thought the pool water made Alton sick and was shocked by news reports that he had been exposed to fentanyl.
“Where would a 10-year-old baby get something like that?” Davis said.
Thinking about her own grandchildren going to the pool, Davis said, “I’m going to tell them, ‘Don’t touch nothing.’ I don’t know whether they think it’s candy, but somebody needs to tell these kids something. I don’t know how you just by touching contract it or whatever. We need to know more.”