NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (KTNV) — The death of a middle school-aged child is under investigation in North Las Vegas, and police believe it could be connected to pills laced with fentanyl.
Police say the 15-year-old died on Wednesday night at Dignity Health Hospital.
Detectives were contacted but, "after the initial investigation at the hospital and speaking with family members, the exact cause of death could not immediately be determined, pending an autopsy," said NLVPD public information officer Alexander Cuevas.
On Thursday, investigators were informed that two more students from Marvin M. Sedway Middle School had possibly been sickened by pills laced with fentanyl. Through their investigation, detectives discovered that five students, including the 15-year-old who died, "had taken some type of pills" on Wednesday, Cuevas said.
Fentanyl, a synthetic drug that is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin, is now the leading cause of death in Americans aged 18 to 45, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is being used more and more frequently by drug dealers as a cheap substitute to cut drugs and make their supply stretch further.
Detectives are working to identify potential suspects in the student's death, and to find out whether there are additional victims.
"Criminal charges in this case are pending," Cuevas said.
In response to a request for comment, the Clark County School District sent 13 Action News this email from Sedway Middle School's principal, La Toya Jordan Brown:
Dear Marvin M. Sedway Middle School families,
It is with deep sympathy that I inform you of the recent passing of one of our students. It is never easy to lose a valuable life, especially at a young age and we will truly remember this student as part of our Sedway family.
We are working with our students to ensure they have the support and resources they need to get through this very difficult time. Counseling resources are available to those who may want that assistance.
Please monitor any signs of grief or behavioral changes in your child as this loss may affect them in unexpected ways as well as keep your lines of communication open with them. It is important to be honest with your child and allow them to express feelings of disbelief, anger and/or grief. Reassure your child that there is always someone with whom they can talk with and that these feelings are normal.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child, please call our school at 702-799-3880.
Anyone with information that could aid this investigation can contact North Las Vegas police at 702-633-9111 or make an anonymous report to Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555.
The Southern Nevada Health District offers free fentanyl detection strips at its pharmacy at 280 S. Decatur Boulevard.