Kankakee County Coroner

Lethal doses are shown in this photo of vials containing heroin, fentanyl and carfentanyl.

KANKAKEE — Two more suspected overdoses have occurred since local officials sounded the alarm on Friday about a series of fentanyl overdoses in a 24-hour period.

The two new cases — one of which was fatal — are in addition to the seven cases reported Friday.

On Saturday, a 51-year-old male was found dead in his vehicle in the 1100 block of East Merchant Street in Kankakee. Kankakee Police Chief Robin Passwater said investigators and the coroner’s office are awaiting toxicology reports to officially confirm the cause of death was an overdose.

Also on Saturday, an overdose victim was revived by emergency responders with the Kankakee Fire Department.

In reporting the latest cases, local officials said they are hopeful that spreading word of the rash of overdoses last week helped.

“We will never know, but we hope the information we put out late last week prevents additional deaths,” Passwater said, adding that police are actively working to identify the source. “Our investigators continue to investigate these cases to identify the source of the illegal drugs.”

Kankakee police and fire, Kankakee Mayor Chris Curtis, Kankakee County Coroner’s Office and the health department all posted alerts on their social media pages on Friday.

Of the seven cases last week, medics were able to revive five using Narcan, a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses. It’s carried by all EMS, police and fire units, Kankakee County Coroner Bob Gessner said.

A 20-year-old female and a 37-year-old male, both of Kankakee, died from overdoses.

All seven were believed to have been together in the 600 block of West Station Street prior to overdosing, according to officials. All were found to have fentanyl in their systems.

Pending verification, the latest incident would bring the county’s total number of overdose deaths in January to seven.

In the 2021 fiscal year — the time frame used by the Kankakee County Coroner’s Office when collecting data so that it coincides with the county’s budget — there were 43 confirmed overdose deaths.

For the 2020 fiscal year, which runs from Dec. 1 to Nov. 30, there were 50 confirmed OD deaths.

Jeff Bonty is a reporter for The Daily Journal. He can be reached at jbonty@daily-journal.com and 815-937-3366.


Jeff Bonty has worked for The Daily Journal since September 1986, starting in the sports department before moving to news reporting in 2002. He's a native of Indiana and graduate of Purdue University. His email is jbonty@daily-journal.com.

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