SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (Reuters) – Nine students from the University of California, Santa Barbara suffered an apparent mass overdose of prescription opioids at a party and were taken to a local hospital, police said on Friday.
The incident began when sheriffs deputies and paramedics responding to an emergency call found a young man unconscious in the back seat of a car at about 10 p.m. Thursday night, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Other students at the gathering told deputies that the victim, who was rushed to a local hospital, had ingested alcohol along with unknown amount of the pain reliever Oxycontin, the sheriff’s department said.
Deputies on the scene discovered a second male who had stopped breathing and exhibited signs of an overdose. They revived him with a nasal spray dose of naloxone, a drug used to temporarily block the effects of opioid narcotics, before transporting him to the hospital as well, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Seven more students, all of whom had taken a blue pill, were ultimately found exhibiting symptoms of an overdose at the residence, according to the Sheriff’s Office, and were taken to the hospital.
Eight of the students have been released from the hospital. The remaining student was expected to be released later on Friday, the sheriff’s department said.
A university spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19,410 people died from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids in 2016. Experts say that mass overdoses in one location are extremely rare.
Reporting by Dave Minsky in San Luis Obispo, California,; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Leslie Adler