Opioid overdose deaths at epidemic levels in Sunshine State, but a Seminole County deputy's heroics saved lives of two addicts who overdosed

Headline Surfer video / Seminole County Deputy Fred Hilaire is recognized as a hero by Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma for saving the lives of two opiate drug addicts who overdosed just weeks apart in May. The life-saving efforts are detailed by Hilaire in the video segment.
 
By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

SANFORD, Fla. -- An Ormond Beach couple were found unconscious outside their SUV in the breakdown lane of east-bound Interstate 4 near DeLand on New Year's Eve. 

Their three children -- ages 2,1 and an infant -- were strapped in their car seats watching a movie in the vehicle, which was left running with its flashers on. But the mom and dad were already dead before the first trooper, on scene could call out an ambulance. An autopsy revealed Daniel Kelsey, 32, and Heather Kelsey, 30, were killed by an overdose of Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid seen as the culprit behind a sudden spike in overdose deaths nationally. 

This tragic scenario on the eastbound side of I-4, would leave three small kids without their mom and dad to raise them -- a responsibility taken on by relatives. It also served as a precursor to what would become a near doubling of Fentanyl-related drug overdose deaths in Florida last year. 

Deaths caused by fentanyl increased by a whopping 97 percent in 2016, according to recently released report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. There were 1,390 fentanyl-related deaths last year.

Opioid-related deaths in Florida jumped by more than a third in 2016: That's 5,725 people who lost their lives -- 1,483 more than in 2015. The findings caused Gov. Rick Scott and President Donald Trump to declare opioid epidemics in Florida and nationally, respectively.

The FDLE report highlights findings of the state medical examiners’ annual drug death totals, demonstrating the devastating impact of fentanyl, described as a lethal synthetic opioid analgesic often mixed with heroin. 

Thanks to the heroics of a Seminole County Sheriff's deputy, two women in separate overdose situations last year survived. That deputy is Fred Hilaire.

The 25-year-old deputy saved one woman found unconscious in the middle of a road by providing CPR and the second woman in a bathtub by administering Narcan. The life-saving efforts by Hilaire occurred within weeks of each other last May. 

Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said "Deputy Hilaire is a hero," who relied on his instincts and law enforcement in responding to the emergency situations at hand during his patrol duties.  

"We continue to work in harmony with local, state and national officials to combat the opioid epidemic," Lemma said. "We recognize that proactive enforcement is just one of several ways this is done." 

Lemma said homicide prosecution of alleged drug dealers for supplying illicit drugs to users who die as a result of of an overdose of supplied drugs is another tool. And yet another is supplying more deputies with Narcan, he said.

Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma, shown here presenting an award to Hilaire in this SCSO-provided photo, said "Deputy Hilaire is a hero" who relied on his instincts and law enforcement in responding to the emergency situations at hand during his patrol duties.  

"We continue to work in harmony with local, state and national officials to combat the opioid epidemic," Lemma said. "We recognize that proactive enforcement is just one of several ways this is done."

Lemma said homicide prosecution of alleged drug dealers for supplying illicit drugs to users who die as a result of an overdose of supplied drugs is another tool. And yet another is supplying more deputies with Narcan, he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards. Frederick is enrolled online at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's a third of the way though the Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation will be in March 2018.