Ohio Parents Charged With Manslaughter After Two Children Got Into Fentanyl Stash

A mother and father are facing manslaughter charges after one toddler died and another was poisoned from accidentally ingesting fentanyl Sunday, according to local police.

The two children were taken to Ohio Health Berger Hospital after allegedly getting into the dangerous drug in their family's apartment, the Circleville Police Department wrote in a statement Monday.

Police responded to the hospital after receiving a report that the 20-month-old toddler was not breathing. A 3-year-old sibling was also sick and vomiting, according to the statement.

The nearly-2-year-old was pronounced dead at the hospital, and the 3-year-old was later released to family members, police said. Officers later executed a search warrant at the apartment, where they allegedly found fentanyl and acetylfentanyl.

The parents, 25-year-old Nicholas D. Lee and 26-year-old Brianna E. Roush, allegedly told police they used and sold illegal drugs, including fentanyl and cocaine, the statement said. Along with manslaughter, they face charges of child endangering and drug trafficking.

Newsweek reached out to the Pickaway County Prosecutor's Office for further comment on Monday but did not hear back by publication. This story will be updated with further comment.

As the opioid epidemic continues to ravage communities across the United States, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths, some children have also been killed by the toxic drugs. There have been instances of children and teenagers obtaining the illegal drugs, as well as young children accidentally getting into them.

Throughout 2020, 91,799 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. Of those, 715 were children 17 years old or younger, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of children who have overdosed on drugs has risen in recent years. Last year saw the highest number of overdose deaths among children since at least 1999, according to the CDC data.

Other children have also died in recent months due to overdosing on illegal drugs.

On Saturday—one day before the 20-month old overdosed—a 13-year-old from Connecticut died following a fentanyl overdose at school on Thursday. Police found 40 small bags of powdered fentanyl in the school's gymnasium and several classrooms, and two other students were also exposed to the drugs.

In June, a toddler overdosed on cocaine after picking up an unknown object—later identified as the drug—and putting it in his mouth while on a walk in the neighborhood. Emergency responders revived the child, but the adults responsible were charged with child neglect.

Over-the-counter medications also pose a threat to children, as tens of thousands accidentally ingest them each year, according to the CDC. The agency recommends for parents to store drugs and medications out of the reach of young children as the best way to decrease accidental ingestion or overdoses.

Child overdoses on fentanyl
Ohio parents are facing manslaughter charges after their toddler overdosed on fentanyl. Above, a chemist checks confiscated fentanyl in New York in October 2019. DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images