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Claremont Courier - A Local Nonprofit Newsroom

Coroner confirms teenager’s death from ‘fentanyl toxicity’-podcast

By Mick Rhodes | mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office has confirmed that “fentanyl toxicity” was the lone cause of 14-year-old Chloe Kreutzer’s June 1 death.

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Family and friends speculated at the time that an illicit, fentanyl-laced Percocet pill was to blame for the rising Claremont High School sophomore’s demise. The coroner’s report, issued Sunday, confirms those suspicions.

Additionally, a second phony Percocet pill found in Chloe’s backpack was also confirmed to have contained fentanyl, the massively potent opioid painkiller 100 times stronger than morphine.

An investigation into the incident, which occurred in San Dimas, remains “ongoing, very active and very fluid,” according Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Detective Rick Eguia, who heads up the probe.

Though he declined to provide any further details, citing the desire to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation, he made clear his desire to make headway in the case.

“I just want to help,” Detective Eguia said. “I’m employed somewhere that allows me to try and help people avoid these things, because what they don’t know is with this fentanyl stuff, they think they’re getting one thing but it’s costing them their lives. At that young age, they’re exploring. They don’t know any better. But it’s costing them. We just want to be able to stop that as much as we can.”

Chloe, was the centerpiece of “Forever 15,” the COURIER’s investigation into the fentanyl crisis published in three installments in late July and early August. For Chloe’s mother, Karie Krouse, the probe is of little solace.

“The ongoing investigation won’t do anything to help bring my child back,” she said. “Nothing can fix my broken heart from this loss. I can only hope that her story can help save someone else’s life.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in July that 2020 was the deadliest year on record for opioid overdose deaths, with an astonishing 93,331 Americans dying from both prescription and illicit opioids. That provisional number, which will no doubt increase once the final tally is in, was up nearly 30 percent from the previous year’s total. That jump was also a record for the highest year-to-year increase since the CDC began compiling opioid overdose statistics in 1999.

One stat was particularly telling among the those detailed in the CDC’s report: deaths attributed to fentanyl were higher in 2020 than ever recorded.

 

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