Portland, OR

Tuesday in Portland: Bill requiring fentanyl education in schools passes the Oregon House and more

Emily Scarvie

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(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Tuesday, May 23 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. Bill requiring fentanyl education in schools passes the Oregon House

The fentanyl crisis is impacting Oregonians across the state and putting a strain on first responders. Overdoses have increased and fentanyl-related deaths are on the rise. As the crisis has made its way into Portland schools, state officials are taking legislative action to try to protect students.

Last week, a bill calling for an age-appropriate fentanyl curriculum to be added to existing drug and alcohol classes in middle and high schools passed the Oregon House. It also aims to educate students on the laws that provide immunity to people who report fentanyl use or seek treatment.

In February 2023, a student at Franklin High School died of a suspected fentanyl overdose, and last year two students from McDaniel High School died the same way. Data from Multnomah County’s health department says opioid misuse among youth is decreasing, but overdoses are increasing.

2. State police identify 7 people killed in I-5 crash near Albany

Oregon State Police have released the identities of the seven people killed in a crash involving a semi-truck last week on I-5 near Albany. According to police, the people killed in the crash were all in a Ford Econoline Van, which carried four other people who were injured in the Thursday afternoon crash.

Those who were killed have been identified as Eduardo Lopez, 31, of Gervais; Alejandro Jimenez Hernandez, 36, of Gervais; Josue Garcia Garcia, 30, of Salem; Luis Enrique Gomez Reyes, 30, of Woodburn; Javier Suarez, 58, of Woodburn; Alejandra Espinoza Carpio, 39; Juan Carlos Leyva Carrillo, 37, of Woodburn. State police said six of the seven people died at the scene, while the seventh person died at a hospital.

A union representing farmworkers and the Mexican Consulate identified the 11 people in the van as farmerworkers, The Associated Press reported.

The driver of the semi-truck has been charged with DUII, reckless driving, seven counts of second-degree manslaughter and three counts of third-degree assault.

3. Overdose deaths spike in Portland

Overdose deaths in Portland are outpacing homicides nearly 3-1, according to recent PPB statistics. As of May 16, there were 85 drug overdose deaths in Portland. As of May 14, there have been 34 homicides in Portland in 2023.

“As anyone who’s been downtown recently can see themselves, the crisis that we’re seeing there, the volume of drugs that we’re seeing and then the potency of the drugs,” PPB Officer David Baer told KOIN. “People tell me that they smoke 40 to 50 pills a day.”

Baer says amid the fentanyl crisis he encourages everyone to have Narcan and know how to use it. The narcotic overdose treatment is now available as an over-the-counter drug. Doctors say administering Narcan to someone who is not overdosing will not hurt them.

“I would like to remind people that the people who are overdosing on the street are still our neighbors,” Baer said. “They’re still people with families.”

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