MILWAUKEE COUNTY — The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s office says they responded to eight probable drug overdoses Monday alone.
The medical examiner’s office says tragically, two of those deaths were a young couple who overdosed in the presence of their infant. Their families tell TMJ4 News they’re too heartbroken to speak about their loss on camera, but they say something needs to be done about the drugs on Milwaukee’s streets.
The M.E.’s office says a 20-year-old woman and her 27-year-old partner both died from probable overdoses Monday night inside their home, leaving a baby boy without his mother and father.
“These are really hard to see, because you’ve got more than just those three lives that have been affected by this case and by any of these cases when we investigate them,” said Forensic Technical Director Sara Schreiber.
Schreiber said eight overdose deaths in 24 hours is unusual in Milwaukee County, but sadly it’s a snapshot of a dramatic increase in overdose deaths over the past year.
“We’re ahead of the pace that we had for last year, and last year was definitely a banner year for us compared to the previous number of years,” she said.
Schreiber said in the first three months of 2021, 53 Milwaukee County residents are confirmed to have died from drug overdoses while another 78 are pending further review.
This comes after a record 538 people in Milwaukee County lost their lives to substance abuse in 2020. Schreiber says the common denominator is fentanyl use.
“We find fentanyl in more than 75 percent of our narcotic-related cases,” she said. “The combinations there within fentanyl vary. Sometimes it’s with cocaine, sometimes it’s with methamphetamines, sometimes it’s with other opioids.”
While fentanyl can be medically prescribed, Schreiber says their investigations are finding that those who have died from the drug bought it on the streets.
“The resources need to be available to help those that are suffering with substance use disorder, but we need to be able to get to individuals and communicate to them before they even start the dangers and the risks associated with this type of an addiction," Schreiber said.