Drug overdose deaths in Erie County increase at alarming rate

ERIE, Pa. -- Erie County has seen a major increase in drug overdoses in 2017. That high death toll is alarming first responders.

Just two months into 2017, Erie County has already seen 25 potential drug deaths. A very startling number for first responders as Erie County had less than 100 in 2016.

Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook said at this rate, Erie County will likely surpass last year's overdose numbers because of the dramatic increase in drug deaths in the first two months of 2017.

Cook said there have been 17 confirmed deaths and eight that are awaiting toxicology testing. He said the two leading killers he has seen this year are fentanyl and cocaine.

Stancliff Hose Co. fireman Harry Latta said that first responders have been called to 30 to 40 overdose calls in 2017 alone.

"We have noticed a dramatic increase in overdose calls," Latta said.

Jack Martin, of Dusckas Funeral Home, said that he has had four overdose funerals this year and teaches a course to try and deter drug use by showing students what happens to them after the overdose.

"You don't want to end up on a cold, stainless steel table and tell them that is your last place you'll end is at the funeral home if you continue to do it,” Martin said.

County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper was in Washinton, D.C, over weekend speaking at a national conference to end the opioid epidemic. The panel combines local state and federal government to discuss how to solve the crisis.


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