Patrol: No charges in the mass opiate overdose at state prison

No criminal charges will be filed in the mass opiate overdose at Ross Correctional Institution that led to 23 guards, four nurses and an inmate being taken to the hospital, the Ohio Highway Patrol said Wednesday.

The 25-page investigative report released by the patrol paints an alarming picture of how the Aug. 29 overdose unfolded.

Corrections Officer Amber McKee was training 11 new guards on cell searches when she noticed just one cell in the 4A housing unit with a closed door. She looked inside cell 143 and found an inmate apparently unconscious and making gurgling noises.

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The unconscious prisoner’s cellmate, laughing, told McKee the man needed to go to the hospital, the patrol report said. The cellmate then came out of the cell, raised his arm toward McKee and told her “that she needed to go to the hospital and that she was going to die,” the report says.

Seconds later, McKee felt burning and tingling on her arm. A short time later, she stepped from the cell and collapsed, according to the patrol report.

Other guards reported they didn’t see the inmate throw anything on McKee or say she was going to die.

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One inmate witness told troopers that a prisoner in that housing unit brought a “white marble” of fentanyl into the prison when he transferred from the Ohio State Penitentiary near Youngstown, most likely carrying it between prisons in his rectum.

The inmate witness said when he returned to his cell, he turned on his fan and was struck in the face with a dust or powder-like substance. Twenty minutes later, he felt slow and intoxicated and later awoke in the hospital, the inmate reported.

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Troopers, paramedics, the patrol crime lab, the Columbus Fire Department Haz-Mat team responded to the incident. Some 300 doses of Narcan were rushed to the prison. Inmates were moved out of the housing unit, which was sealed off.

The patrol found tan powder in a plastic baggie and a glass vial tucked under the top bunk frame in cell 142 that tested positive for fentanyl and heroin.

The Ross County prosecutor determined there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue criminal charges, the patrol report said.

The patrol is responsible for investigating crimes at Ohio prisons.

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