Riverside authorities are investigating the discovery of two people dead from fentanyl and three cases of children who tested positive for the opioid this week.
At approximately 10:00 p.m. Sunday, officers responded to reports of a man found dead at a Canyon Crest residence. Investigators later determined that the death was the result of a fentanyl overdose.
The following day, at approximately 11:18 a.m., Riverside Fire Department paramedics responded to a medical emergency in the parking lot of a grocery store. Upon arrival at the scene, paramedics found a 3-year-old boy who had stopped breathing and was transported to a hospital.
Authorities discovered that the toddler had been the victim of a fentanyl overdose, and police officers arrived after the child’s mother attempted to interfere with her son’s care at the medical facility.
Upon investigation, detectives learned that the boy, his 2-year-old sister, his 5-year-old brother, and his parents were homeless and living in their car.
The other two minors also tested positive for fentanyl; authorities believe all three children were exposed to the opioid inside the vehicle.
The parents were arrested on charges of child endangerment. The children were taken into the Riverside County Department of Child Protective Services custody.
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The second fatality occurred on June 6, when law enforcement officers found a homeless woman unconscious near Iowa Avenue and Citrus Street in the Hunter Park neighborhood.
Emergency services attempted to resuscitate the woman, but she passed away. Police suspect the victim died from a fentanyl overdose.
“In 24 hours in Riverside, we had three children exposed to fentanyl and two adults die from the drug,” said Riverside Police Department Chief Larry Gonzalez.
“More sensible legislation is needed to help remove this poison from our neighborhoods, and your local chiefs, sheriffs, and district attorneys will continue to lobby our legislators until we do,” Gonzalez added.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.
In California, cases of fentanyl overdose-related deaths have skyrocketed in recent years.