Local 4 Defenders take rare journey inside Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office

Officials concerned about deadly drug overdoses

By Karen Drew - Reporter/Anchor, Derick Hutchinson

PONTIAC, Mich. - The Local 4 Defenders took a rare journey inside the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office to see what they see.

On the day Local 4 visited, two men were brought into an autopsy room -- one in his 30s and another in his 40s. They both died of drug overdoses.

According to the medical examiner, the average age of a drug overdose victim in Oakland County is 42 years old. It's typically a white man or woman, many times parents.

"It is not uncommon to see days when we have four autopsies and all four can be drug abuse cases," medical exam administrator Casimir Miarka said.

So far in 2019, there have been 84 drug overdoses in Oakland County.

"We are concerned that the numbers are going to increase," Dr. Ljubisa Dragovic said.

"What we see is people believe that they are getting heroin, for example, which is an old, more traditional drug of abuse," said Dr. Andrew Hanosh, a deputy forensic pathologist. "But actually, it is cut with, or it is entirely, fentanyl."

The Defenders obtained the latest toxicology reports from last year, showing fentanyl was found in the victims' system in 72 percent of cases in Oakland County.

Experts said the drug users believe they are getting one drug and have no idea it's laced with fentanyl.

Until recovery programs improve and education increases, officials worry these types of deaths will continue.

Here are some links that could help:

You can watch the Defenders' full story in the video posted above.

Copyright 2019 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.