Cops: Boy, 8, Was Killed by Fentanyl, Not Strawberries

Kentucky boy's stepfather has been charged with manslaughter
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2024 2:00 AM CDT
Updated Apr 12, 2024 4:56 AM CDT
Boy, 8, Dies After Eating Strawberries
   (Getty Images / iluhanos)
UPDATE Apr 12, 2024 4:56 AM CDT

An 8-year-old boy in Kentucky who died after eating strawberries bought at a school fundraiser was killed by fentanyl, not an allergic reaction, police say. Antonio M. Person, 33, was charged with manslaughter on Wednesday after a coroner determined the boy's cause of death was fentanyl intoxication, the AP reports. WLKY reports that Person is the boy's stepfather. He was charged with drug trafficking and illegal gun possession after police searched the home last month. When the boy's family took him to a hospital on March 14, they said he had a rash and appeared to be having an allergic reaction. It's not clear when or how he ingested fentanyl. Earlier this week, authorities said the FDA had tested the strawberries from the fundraiser and determined they were safe to eat.

Mar 18, 2024 2:00 AM CDT

An 8-year-old Kentucky boy ate strawberries purchased at a school fundraiser Thursday night, and by the next morning, the child was dead. His parents told authorities he appeared to be suffering from some sort of allergic reaction after eating the strawberries, with a rash as the main symptom, and that they gave him Benadryl and put him in the bath to see if that helped. It did not, so they ended up taking him to an emergency room around 10:30pm and took him back home several hours later, 14 News reports. It's not clear whether he was treated there; reports the family "decided to leave" close to 1:30am; he changed his clothes and went to bed. The family called police around 6:30am the following morning when they went to wake the boy for school and found him unresponsive, WKYT reports. He was rushed to the hospital but did not survive.

Emergency room staff members told police several other people had come in to be treated for similar symptoms after also having eaten strawberries believed to have been from the same fundraiser, and the county health department issued an advisory warning people not to eat the berries. Later, the health department said that, per the medical examiner, the boy's death appeared to be the result of an "isolated allergic reaction," but that since those results were preliminary, the public was still advised to avoid the strawberries. Further testing will determine the boy's cause of death, and the strawberries are also being tested. Per Medical News Today, in rare cases, a strawberry allergy can cause anaphylaxis, which can be fatal. (More Kentucky stories.)

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