Each and every year, people in California and across the United States die as the result of fentanyl overdoses. Fentanyl is considered by medical experts as the drug that currently is driving the opioid crisis in the U.S.A. and elsewhere. With some regularity, well-known individuals lose their lives as a result of fentanyl overdoses. In July 2019, Los Angeles Chargers Pitcher Tyler Skaggs lost his life to a fentanyl overdose.
About a year later, in August 2020, a former employer of the Chargers franchise was charged in the death of Tyler Skaggs. Specifically, the former employee of the team was charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, criminal activity that prosecutors maintain resulted in Skaggs’ death.
A Successful Baseball Career
Before his untimely death, Tyler Skaggs had enjoyed a successful career in Major League Baseball. 28 years old at the time of his death, Skaggs began his MLB career as a first-round draft pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was traded to the Los Angeles Chargers during the 2013-2014 off-season. He pitched for the Chargers until his death in 2019.
Circumstances of Skaggs’ Death
Tyler Skaggs was in Dallas, Texas, for a series of away games with the Texas Rangers. Before his team was scheduled to play the Rangers, Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room. An autopsy report was performed on Skaggs’. The autopsy and associated drug tests revealed that Skaggs had alcohol, oxycodone, and fentanyl in his system at the time of his death. The coroner attributed the baseball player’s death primarily to the fentanyl in his system. The coroner explicitly stated that Skaggs would not have died had it not been for the fentanyl he ingested.
Fentanyl Is an Extremely Powerful Opioid Drug
Fentanyl is regarded as an extremely powerful synthetic opioid drug. It is considered to be up to 100 times more powerful than morphine. It is also significantly more powerful than heroin. The vast majority of fentanyl used is illegally manufactured. The drug is not only manufactured in the United States but is imported into the country as well. Most imported fentanyl comes from China or Mexico, countries that have weak regulatory controls over their pharmaceutical companies.
Many People Overdose on Fentanyl Not Knowing They Took the Drug
Every year, many people overdose on fentanyl now knowing that they have taken the drug. There is some discussion that this scenario may have been the case with Skaggs.
Many fentanyl dealers obtain or produce counterfeit drugs that contain fentanyl. They obtain or produce fentanyl disguised as counterfeit drugs in pill form. These dealers or manufacturers stamp a pharmaceutical company’s markings on these illicit pills to make them look like bona fide pharmaceuticals. Oxycodone is a very common example of a counterfeit drug that contains fentanyl. It is highly possible that Skaggs took counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl. Thinking these pills contained only fentanyl, Skaggs may have overdosed because he took far too large of a dosage, again believing he was ingesting oxycodone. This is discussed in greater detail shortly.
There are also situations in which heroin and cocaine are cut with fentanyl. This stretches out a heroin or cocaine supply and makes the illicit drug more affordable per dose. This is another situation in which a heroin or cocaine user is unaware of the presence of fentanyl mixed into heroin or cocaine.
The scenario involving the cutting of heroin or cocaine with fentanyl doesn’t appear to have played a role in Skaggs’ death. No traces of heroin or cocaine were found in Skaggs’ system during the autopsy and associated laboratory drug tests.
Criminal Charges Filed in Tyler Skaggs Case
As mentioned previously, criminal charges have not been filed in the Tyler Skaggs case, a year after the pitcher’s death caused by a fatal overdose of fentanyl. Eric Prescott Kay was the former LA Chargers employee charged in the case. Kay had been the team’s communication director prior to the death of Skaggs.
Kay evidently provided Skaggs with mind-altering substances, including oxycodone. Evidently, Kay provided counterfeit Oxycodone pills to Skaggs. Investigators reported that they found several pills and white powder in Skaggs’ hotel room.
The pills were said to closely resemble prescription oxycodone pills. When subjected to lab testing, at least one of the pills was determined to contain fentanyl. In addition, the white powder also contained traces of fentanyl.
The prosecuting attorney maintains he has evidence that reveals Skaggs asked Kay to bring drugs to the pitcher’s hotel room. The evidence further suggests that Kay complied and did bring some illegal drugs to the baseball player’s hotel tool. It is unclear as to whether Kay was present at the time Kay ingested the illicit drugs and subsequently overdosed on them. Kay has been released on bond by the judge in the case.