Five employees at a New Jersey mall suffered overdoses after ingesting fentanyl, according to city officials.
While the investigation is still in its preliminary stages, city officials said that five women who work at the Shops at Riverside in Hackensack had somehow ingested the deadly drug and became unresponsive.
The scary situation unfolded in the lower deck of the parking garage Wednesday afternoon. A good Samaritan, another employee at the upscale shopping center, said he saw one of the women laying on the ground near her car while two others were laying down as well.
Immediately he jumped into action, grabbing life-saving equipment and racing over to help.
"I know when I approached the one lady, her lips and hands were blue. The other two ladies were the same as well," said the worker who did not wish to be identified. "I got my AED kit and administered CPR, which we were able to get one of the ladies to respond. One was unresponsive and didn’t seem to wake up."
He performed CPR on the women, all of whom were adults between the ages of 29 and 41 and showing overdose symptoms. Investigators said Narcan was administered to all five, and each one was revived.
“It is truly heartbreaking to see the terrible toll taken by these illicit and dangerous substances,” said Hackensack Mayor John Labrosse. “My office has been working closely with law enforcement since this tragic incident was first reported, and we will continue to offer any necessary support to the emergency responders and the rest of the community as the situation continues to unfold.”
It was not immediately clear how the women had ingested fentanyl, but the opioid can be used to lace drugs like cocaine or heroin to provide a stronger effect, officials said. However, users may not be aware of its presence, or are unprepared for how intense of an effect it can have, and die as a result from the powerful drug.
The investigation, which is being conducted by the Hackensack Police Department, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office and the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, is ongoing.