Selma, AL – A 16-year-old Selma High School student collapsed in the cafeteria and died on Wednesday and four more students were hospitalized after what police suspect were fentanyl overdoses.
The incident occurred at the high school located in the 2100-block of Broad Street at lunchtime on Nov. 9, WSFA reported.
A parent said that a 16-year-old boy was sitting in the cafeteria when he suddenly keeled over.
Selma Police Captain Natasha Fowlkes said that Narcan was administered to the unconscious student, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful and he was transported to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead, WSFA reported.
Capt. Fowlkes said four more students demonstrated signs of intoxication or began to lose consciousness and were transported to the hospital, too, according to the authorities.
Those students were treated for what police believe was a fentanyl overdose and survived, WSFA reported.
Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is at Selma High School 24 hours after a student was taken to the hospital where they later died. I’m speaking with parents and the superintendent this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/oAxYtJyA4q
— Monae Stevens (@monaestevens_tv) November 9, 2022
Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson indicated his investigators believed the 16 year old’s death was likely linked to fentanyl.
Capt. Fowlkes said investigators were waiting for the results of toxicology testing before determining the exact cause of death, WSFA reported.
“Truly, yesterday was a tragic day in Selma,” Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. said in a statement on Thursday morning. “We lost another child, and several children needed emergency care at the hospital.”
“There is nothing easy about losing a child and the agony of sitting in an ER waiting to find out whether your child will be okay is a pain no parent should endure,” the statement continued.
“To the family, schoolmates, and friends of the deceased, know that your mayor has a heavy heart and grieves with you,” the mayor wrote. “Because the deceased is a juvenile, I will not mention him by name, just know that his death is very close to me. I considered him a son.”
Perkins said the Selma city school system was coordinating with the police department, the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, WSFA reported.
“Be assured that as soon as I receive facts that can be shared with the public, that information will be officially shared with you by law enforcement, school system officials, and me,” the mayor said.
But he also warned community members and the media against “jumping to conclusions or making unproven statements,” WSFA reported.
“I ask that we not do that. In the meantime, let us continue in prayer for the family, all of our children, and the entire community,” Perkins said.
Selma City Schools Superintendent Zickeyous Byrd said in a letter sent to Selma High School families that grief counselors would be made available for students and staff, WSFA reported.
“When an event of this magnitude touches one family, it affects us all,” Byrd’s letter read. “Selma High is an essential part of this district, and we jointly share the responsibility of developing our vital resource – our children.”
Alabama State Superintendent of Schools Eric Mackey shared Byrd’s letter on social media, WSFA reported.
We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of the Selma High School student. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, classmates, teachers, administrators, and all those impacted. Counselors & other staff members will be onsite to provide counseling and support services. https://t.co/rg0v7y48oX
— Eric Mackey (@egmackey) November 9, 2022
“We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of the Selma High School student,” Mackey wrote. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, classmates, teachers, administrators, and all those impacted.”