Pow­er­ful opi­oid sus­pected in 10-year-old Mi­ami boy’s death

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

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.”

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