7 First Responders Sickened at Bridge Crash

7 exposed to what authorities believe was fentanyl on San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2020 9:20 AM CDT
Bridge Crash May Have Exposed 7 to Deadly Drug
The Golden Gate Bridge, on a different day.   (Getty Images/Daniel Hallquist)

A section of the Golden Gate Bridge was deemed an accident scene, a crime scene, and a hazmat scene in one fell swoop over the weekend after first responders started becoming ill while responding to a car crash. Per KGO, officers got a call just before noon on Sunday about a vehicle swerving on the bridge just before one of the toll plazas. By the time California Highway Patrol officers and other first responders arrived, the driver had crashed into a barrier on an off-ramp and was unconscious inside the vehicle. That's when things got weird. First, a CHP officer who had initially checked on the driver started feeling "extremely ill," then "went down and essentially became unresponsive," per CHP spokesman Andrew Barclay. CNN notes that then a second CHP officer and a tow truck driver on the scene, as well as a fire department staffer, started feeling sick.

Investigators soon pinpointed what they believed to be the culprit: a white powdery substance inside the crashed vehicle that was suspected to be fentanyl, an opioid many times more powerful than morphine that can be fatal in even tiny doses. As they investigated, two more CHP officers and a Golden Gate Bridge Patrol officer also became ill. Barclay says all seven people who were sickened suffered from such symptoms as vomiting, nausea, convulsions, vision problems, and dizziness, per KTVU. He adds they were all hospitalized for treatment and released and are now recuperating at home. The driver of the crashed vehicle, who was also hospitalized, was treated with anti-overdose meds, released from the hospital, and booked into San Francisco County Jail for possession of a controlled substance and DUI. (More Golden Gate Bridge stories.)

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