The Investigators: EBR coroner says heroin deaths hit record high

The Investigators: EBR coroner says heroin deaths hit record high

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The East Baton Rouge Coroner's Office has confirmed heroin is one of several drugs that killed a LSU Sigma Chi fraternity member in October.

The 21-year-old's passing has brought Baton Rouge to a record number of deaths caused by heroin, according coroner Dr. Beau Clark, who said he expects that record will be broken before the end of the year. The pictures that crime scene investigators said they took inside the off-campus house where Sawyer Reed, a former LSU student and Sigma Chi fraternity member, died are disturbing. Investigators said they found a plastic bag with a large amount of marijuana, pills, powder substances, more than a dozen syringes, scales and a spoon with burnt residue.

Two witnesses told police they returned home to find Reed on the bathroom floor holding a syringe. Medical examiners with the EBR Coroner's Office reported seeing needle holes in his arms and feet. Clark said Reed's blood sample tested positive for heroin.

"It can be smoked," Clark said. "It can be snorted. We've seen it pressed into a pill."

He added he is seeing evidence that heroin has become a bigger problem in Baton Rouge than he ever imagined. He said the Prescription Monitoring Program, where pharmacies create a database for doctors to access their patients' prescription history to prevent "doctor shopping," has turned opiate addicts who can't get their fix in a pill form to heroin. Clark said users do not have to be hooked to die.

"We've seen it in as young as 18, 19-year-old kids, up to people in their 60s," Clark explained.

In 2012, five people died from using heroin. In 2013, that number spiked to 35. In 2014, the number was slightly lower, with heroin blamed for 28 deaths in EBR. So far this year, Clark said heroin has been responsible for 33 deaths and that does not include the cases he is currently investigating.

"If those three pending cases do convert into a positive for heroin, then we will have surpassed our previous record and have a record year," Clark added.

Clark is expected to hold a news conference next week to discuss what has become a deadly trend in East Baton Rouge Parish.

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