High-potency heroin yields string of overdoses in High Country
July 8, 2013
One person is dead and another is facing homicide charges as a particularly potent strain of heroin circulating in the High Country has hit drug users hard.
Officials say there has been a series of drug overdoses resulting from the more dangerous batch, although, it appears, only one fatality. Matthew Williamson, of Avon, died in February. The woman believed to have sold him the drugs that killed him, Kaile Leigh Wilson, 24, of Edwards, has been charged with several felonies including criminally negligent homicide.
"Mr. Williamson's death is but one in a string of recent drug overdoses in the valley that have resulted from the use of a very strong and very deadly strain of heroin," District Attorney Bruce Brown stated in a release on Wilson's arrest in March. "This has truly become a public safety issue in Summit and Eagle counties. In order to prevent further deaths from the use of this drug, we want to make the community aware of the risks associated with its use, but also want to make all dealers aware of the very serious consequences that they will face if caught distributing this within our district."
In Summit County, there has been only one death — thought to be accidental — from an overdose of prescribed pain medication. But authorities say there were three people booked in the Summit County jail in recent months who were detoxing from heroin use.
"That's out of a population of about 35, which is kind of alarming," Summit County Sheriff John Minor said at a recent public meeting. "Our first responders have made a few great resuscitations of what could be a potentially fatal overdose."
Drug use is an ongoing problem in Summit County, where 80 percent of crimes are drug and alcohol related, officials say.
Interstate 70 remains an active drug-trafficking corridor, local law enforcement officials say. In February, authorities found more than 8 pounds of cocaine and half a pound of methamphetamine, worth an estimated $120,000 total, in a car stopped for weaving while traveling through Summit County. At the time, Minor said he believed it to be typical of the kind of shipment that passes through the community regularly and called the bust a "drop in the bucket."
"It's pretty evident that, given the mount of youth that are up here to party, that we have a significant issue with injecting drugs, whether it's cocaine or heroin," Brown said. "It's going to be a continuing public safety issue. There's no end in sight."
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