Fen­tanyl sus­pected in the death of 10-year-old boy

How Al­ton Banks, a fifth-grader, came in con­tact with the drug is a mys­tery.

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Jen­nifer Kay and Curt An­der­son

MI­AMI» A 10-year-old boy from a drug-rid­den Mi­ami neigh­bor­hood 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 into con­tact with the pow­er­ful painkiller is a mys­tery.

Fifth-grader Al­ton Banks died June 23 af­ter a visit to the pool in the city’s Over­town sec­tion. He be­gan vom­it­ing at home, was found un­con­scious that evening and was pro­nounced dead at a hos­pi­tal. Pre­lim­i­nary tox­i­col­ogy tests showed he had fen­tanyl in his sys­tem, au­thor­i­ties said.

“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 Al­ton may been ex­posed to the drug on his walk home in Over­town, a poor, high-crime neigh­bor­hood where As­sis­tant Mi­ami Fire Chief Pete Gomez said he 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.”

The three-block walk be­tween the pool and Al­ton’s home took him down streets that ap­peared rel­a­tively clean Tues­day, but on the block in the other di­rec­tion from his home, trash lit­tered the pave­ment and empty lots. Home­less peo­ple slept in the shade of an In­ter­state 95 over­pass.

De­tec­tives are still try­ing to piece to­gether the boy’s fi­nal day. Run­dle ap­pealed to the pub­lic for in­for­ma­tion.

“This is of such great im­por­tance. We need to solve this case,” she said. “I be­lieve this may be the youngest vic­tim of this scourge in our com­mu­nity.”

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.

Jessie Davis, who lives in an apart­ment house next to the build­ing where Al­ton lived, said her grand­chil­dren, ages 8, 9 and 10, reg­u­larly make the same walk 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.

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