Officials are awaiting results of lab tests to determine causes of three recent deaths tentatively attributed to drug overdoses, according to the Walla Walla Police Department.
“While lab results are pending, it is highly likely the deaths were caused from injecting heroin that was either laced with another powerful depressant or was in a very pure form,” police spokesman Tim Bennett said in a news release.
Without toxicology reports, officials cannot be certain what caused the overdoses, but heroin laced with fentanyl has caused past Walla Walla-area deaths, Detective Matt Wood said Tuesday.
While lab results are pending, it is highly likely the deaths were caused from injecting heroin that was either laced with another powerful depressant, or was in a very pure form.
Police spokesman Tim Bennett
The first of the three overdoses was the death of Whitman College junior Josh Fishman on Aug. 31. Walla Walla County Coroner Richard Greenwood said Tuesday that Fishman, 20, had a history of prescription drug abuse before attending Whitman.
The campus newspaper reported Fishman was from New Jersey and during the summer had worked as a surgical intern at Baylor College of Medicine. At Whitman, he had been taking pre-med and sociology courses.
The other two deaths were reported Sept. 2. Officials have not released their identities pending notification of family.
One was a 20-year-old male who was found dead at Koncrete Industries, 502 N. 13th Ave., at about 1:30 p.m. near the warehouse. He was found with a drug kit containing a syringe nearby, Greenwood said.
Employees at Koncrete Industries had seen the man walking around and eventually lying down on the ground. The spot attracts homeless people who sometimes sit on nearby railroad tracks or take naps in the immediate area, noted one employee, who declined to give his name.
The employee estimated the victim had been on the ground about 20 minutes before he was discovered to be dead.
The second death Sept. 2 was a 68-year-old Milton-Freewater woman who was found unconscious from drug use and resuscitated, then taken to Providence St. Mary Medical Center, where she later died, Greenwood said.
Autopsies for the Walla Walla man and Milton-Freewater woman were planned Tuesday.