Officer accidentally overdoses on 'gray death' drugs during Ohio arrest

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio "Gray death" is a particularly dangerous mixture of heroin, fentanyl, carfentanyl and other synthetic opioids, and it has likely made its way to Michiana.

The dangers that drugs like fentanyl and carfentanyl pose to drug users and first responders has become a national crisis.

For law enforcement, it's a potentially life-threatening situation.

An Ohio police department found out this weekend that it's a scary situation when a brother in blue accidentally overdoses on the scene.

The following report is from WFMJ's Caroline Collins.

On Friday night in East Liverpool, Ohio, undercover Officer Chris Green accidentally overdosed on what is suspected to be fentanyl and carfentanyl.

"Chris is a big strong guy. He's an ex MMA fighter, he's 225 pounds, all the muscle, and it overtook him just like that," said Capt. Patrick Wright of the East Liverpool Police.

It happened after he helped arrest two men. When the suspects were pulled over, police say they hurried to destroy the drug evidence, smashing the suspected deadly drugs into the carpet of the car.

"Officer Green does a great job, and it was just a freak accident that he would accidentally bump up against something while he was searching this vehicle, and for him to drop out like that is shocking," Wright says.

Within minutes of returning to the police station, Green began to feel the effects of an opioid overdose.

Officers called 911 as soon as he passed out.

He got one dose of Narcan at the police station. He was then transported to East Liverpool City Hospital where he was given three additional doses of Narcan.

Fentanyl and carfentanyl contain a substance used in tranquilizing elephants. Wright says most people think they are using heroin.

"Heroin kills hundreds of thousands of people a year throughout the United States. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than heroin. Carfentanyl is a thousand times stronger than that," Wright explains.

He says fentanyl and carfentanyl are so deadly that police officers are now taking more precautions when responding to these calls.

"We have kits in our vehicle ... we have gloves, bags -- we double bag all our evidence that we don't know what it is," Wright says. "We have masks so we don't inhale anything, we have safety googles so it doesn't absorb through our eyes."

Wright says their department no longer field tests drugs for fear they might inhale a deadly substance.

"If you really think about this, these weapons could be used as weapons of mass destruction. All you have to do is walk into any room, flip it in the air, and people are going to start dropping out," Wright says.

Police say Officer Green is expected to be okay.