A Sunday car crash on the Golden Gate Bridge has left seven people hospitalized after possibly being exposed to fentanyl.
Around 11:45 a.m., California Highway Patrol officers in Marin responded to multiple calls about a car that crashed into a movable median barrier at the bridge toll plaza and had blocked all traffic in that particular lane, according to a statement released by the agency. The driver, who was passed out inside the vehicle, was also believed to have been impaired.
One of the patrol officers and a member of the San Francisco Fire Department responded to the call and entered the vehicle to tend to the driver. After the car was put in park and the situation was able to be assessed, the car and its driver were moved off the roadway from traffic, and paramedics were called onto the scene.
Just after leaving the roadway, the initial responding highway patrol officer began displaying signs of possible fentanyl exposure and immediately became immobilized, the agency’s Marin station said.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more powerful. Some of its side effects include confusion, nausea, drowsiness, and problems breathing. In recent years, Illicitly produced fentanyl has been one of the leading factors in overdose deaths; just a small intake can be fatal.
Ambulances were immediately called after a second highway patrol officer and a tow truck driver responding to the bridge crash started showing symptoms of fentanyl exposure. Narcan units and first responders were also contacted to treat the officers and others that could have been exposed to the deadly drug through contact with the driver and his vehicle, the statement detailed.
At that time, two highway patrol officers, fire department personnel, and the driver were all rushed to a local hospital for treatment.
“Due to the extreme danger of fentanyl, the Alexander Avenue off-ramp from northbound US-101 as well as the on-ramp were closed, and the area was deemed both a crime scene and hazmat scene,” the Marin station said.
During the investigation, two more highway patrol officers and a Golden Gate Bridge patrol officer were treated at a nearby hospital after they too began exhibiting symptoms of possible fentanyl exposure.
All 7 individuals that were possibly exposed to the drug have since been released from the hospital and sent home to recover. However, the suspect (driver of the vehicle) was released from the hospital and taken to San Francisco County Jail, where he was charged for a DUI and possession of a controlled substance.