Seven overdoses, one death in Portsmouth


The Portsmouth Police Department is investigating a rash of drug overdoses that occurred over the weekend.

Beginning Friday afternoon until about 10:30 Sunday morning, there were six drug overdoses reported in the city of Portsmouth, one of which resulted in the death of a yet unnamed female.

Another call resulted in the arrest of a Portsmouth man on numerous charges involving drug abuse and trafficking in drugs.

Bryan N. Underwood, 24, of Mabert Road in Portsmouth, was arrested and charged with trafficking in drugs/cocaine a felony of the fourth degree and carrying a concealed weapon, also a felony of the fourth degree.

Underwood was booked into the Scioto County Jail on his charges and was arraigned in Portsmouth Municipal Court Monday morning.

At about 5:50 p.m. Friday, officer Aaron Cooper of the Portsmouth Police Department responded to Southern Ohio Medical Center to a report of a female being brought in from a drug overdose and the female had passed away.

According to Captain Lynn Brewer, she had been picked up at a Portsmouth residence by a crew from Life Medical Response and transported to the hospital suffering from what was believed to be a drug overdose. Hospital personnel and police officers were unable to positively establish the identity of the female subject.

Brewer said, while at the hospital, Cooper attempted to interview five other individuals who were in the hospital being treated for drug overdoses. All of the individuals declined to cooperate by providing police with information. It was determined that some of the individuals lived outside the city of Portsmouth and their drug overdoses had occurred outside Portsmouth.

Portsmouth Police and EMS personnel responded to at 1018 Clay Street at about 8:50 p.m. to a call of a male subject passed out behind the wheel of his vehicle. The vehicle was sitting in the middle of a parking lot running. Upon officers and Fire EMS personnel arrival, they were able to revive the male subject. He was however determined to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs of abuse and was taken into custody.

On search incidental to the arrest, Sergeant James R. Davis and officer Josh Linkous said they located two clear baggies containing off white rocks that field tested positive for the presence of crack cocaine, a small plastic bag containing green vegetation that resembled marijuana, a loaded Springfield Arms 45 caliber semi-automatic pistol, a set of digital scales and numerous other items used in the trafficking and the abuse of drugs. Underwood was subsequently arrested.

The case will be presented to the Scioto County grand jury at a later date where additional charges will be sought, Brewer said. The charges currently faced by Underwood carry a penalty of up to three years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.00.

The exact numbers are still unconfirmed but it is believed that at least 12 overdoses occurred in Portsmouth and Scioto County over the weekend.

Police are continuing their investigation into the overdoses and anyone who may have information that will assist police is asked to call the Portsmouth Police Department at 740-353-4101, the drug unit at 740-354-drug or the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office at 740-354-7566. All information can be kept confidential.

On Friday, the Portsmouth Health Department issued a warning on Facebook that there had been a rash of overdoses. They said it most likely represents the illegal introduction of Fentanyl into opiate products such as heroin or fake pills designed to look like legitimate prescription pain killers. They said the product is causing rapid respiratory depression upon ingestion.

“We’re seeing more overdoses than normal,” Portsmouth City Health Commissioner Chris Smith said. “A lot of times it’s a sign of a bad batch of heroin coming in laced with Fentanyl and that’s what’s causing a lot of deaths which is why we’re trying to do the Facebook alert. Social media seems to be the best way to alert people.”

The Health Department said anyone who ingests this product is at extreme risk of death and urged people not to take any chances. If you witness an overdose it is extremely important to stay with the person and call 911. Use Narcan (Naloxone) if it is available. Provide rescue breathing until the ambulance arrives. They said it is imperative that you do not leave the victim until emergency rescue arrives.

By Frank Lewis

[email protected]

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

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