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Police car lights (file photo)

On the 5500 block of Seminary Road yesterday morning (Tuesday), right along the line between Alexandria and Fairfax, the discovery of a woman unconscious on the sidewalk led to the rescue of six adults unconscious after overdosing on what is suspected to be fentanyl-laced cocaine.

Police said officers responded at 3 a.m. to an apartment on Seminary Road, which a Fairfax County Police Department spokesperson said occurred just inside the Fairfax border.

“When officers arrived, they discovered one woman unconscious on the sidewalk and immediately rendered aid,” the Fairfax Police Department said. “As additional officers arrived, four men and a woman were found unconscious inside the apartment. Officers and Fire and Rescue personnel administered Narcan to all six individuals. All six adults, ranging from 23 to 35 years of age, were taken to local hospitals for further treatment and four remain hospitalized.”

Police said the victims were ingested an unknown narcotic in the apartment, with detectives discovering a white, powdery substance at the scene. The narcotics will be sent to the Virginia Department of Forensic Science for further analysis, police said. An email from the City of Alexandria after the overdoses said the substance was believed to be fentanyl-laced cocaine.

“Please take steps to protect yourself and others who may be in possession of cocaine purchased in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area,” the city said. “The nasal spray Narcan (also known as Naloxone) can save the life of someone who is overdosing from substances containing opioids, if given in time, and test strips can detect dangerous fentanyl-laced drugs before they are used. Obtain free Narcan and fentanyl test strips by emailing your name and address to [email protected] to have one or both mailed to you. Anyone who assists a person in need by administering Narcan is protected by the Good Samaritan Law from liability while rendering aid.”

The Fairfax County Police Department noted that symptoms of an overdose include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Snore-like gurgling sounds
  • Breathing is low, shallow or erratic
  • Bluish purple, or ashen skin color
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fingernails turn blue or close to black

Last year in Alexandria there were an estimated 12 fatal overdoses and 92 non-fatal overdoses.

“If you or someone you know needs help to overcome drug dependence, please call the Community Services Board at Merrifield Center at 703-573-5679 to help find appropriate treatment and recovery services,” the Fairfax Police Department said. “Walk-ins are also welcome Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.”

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It was a surprising week in Alexandria.

Our top story by far was on the venomous rattlesnake found in Old Town on Sunday. The timber snake, which also goes by the name American Viper, was discovered in the 400 block of Gibbon Street — a few blocks from the waterfront. It didn’t bite anyone, and was apprehended by the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria’s Animal Services team and later moved to a wildlife facility in Northern Virginia.

This Saturday, June 19,  is also Juneteenth, and the new federal holiday recognizes the end of slavery in the U.S. The City recognized Juneteenth on Friday, and most government offices and facilities were closed. This weekend, the Alexandria Black History Museum is partnering with Washington Revels Jubilee Voices — a group that preserves local Black traditions through a cappella music, dramatic performances and dance — for a virtual Juneteenth Celebration.

Meanwhile, in-person dramatic and musical performances are being planned for July. The Little Theatre of Alexandria is expanding capacity with their new lineup of shows, and the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra will resume in-person performing in a reduced program at the City’s birthday celebration on the waterfront on July 10.

In other good news, a pair of T.C. Williams High School Titans raised more than $4,800 to attend the Outdoor Nationals at the University of Oregon on July 1.

In this week’s poll, we asked readers how they think the millions of first allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funds should be spent, as City Council will conduct a public hearing on how to spend it on Saturday. After a rash of flooding incidents last year, a majority of the respondents want the funds prioritized for waterway maintenance.

This Sunday is also Father’s Day, and a number of Alexandria businesses are offering unique specials.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. JUST IN: Rarity as American Viper Rattlesnake found in Old Town
  2. Captain Sean Casey wins Democratic primary and is running unopposed for Sheriff in November
  3. Woman assaulted by mob and pepper-sprayed in Old Town North
  4. Man dies of apparent overdose at coworking office in Old Town
  5. T.C. Williams High School’s final graduating class walks the stage
  6. Alexandria Fire Department rescues woman from stalled car, Flash Flood Watch in effect
  7. City launches Duke Street transit overhaul process
  8. For Taco Bamba owner, newly announced Landmark location is a homecoming
  9. Shortened Alexandria Birthday celebration is still on for July 10
  10. Here’s what to do when you find dead birds amid recent epidemic
  11. Java Grill closed until further notice in Old Town

Have a safe weekend! 

Courtesy AWLA/Twitter 

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Morning Notes

City responds to recent overdose increase — “The number of opioid overdoses rose about 36% in Alexandria during 2020, reflecting statewide and national spikes in both fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data collected by the Alexandria Police Department and the Alexandria Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services, there were 105 total opioid overdoses, both fatal and non-fatal, in 2020. In 2019, there were 73 total opioid overdoses in the city.” [Alex Times]

Bicyclist struck and killed by vehicle in Alexandria area of Fairfax County — “The incident happened around 11:45 a.m. at Telegraph Road and Franconia Road in the Alexandria area. Police say the driver remained at the scene.” [FOX 5 DC]

First Thursday rescheduled to June 10 in Del Ray — “The Del Ray Business Association presents First Thursday: Unmask Your Superhero on Thursday, June 10 from 6 p.m. to dusk along Mount Vernon Avenue. The event features a wide range of activities that promote community while supporting the Dunbar Alexandria-Olympic Boys & Girls Club.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Scattered showers and thunderstorms (during the day). Storms may contain strong gusty winds. High 82F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%… A mostly clear sky (in the evening). Low 64F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Seasonal marina dock assistant ($18.99 hourly) — “The Seasonal Marina Dock Assistant works on the City’s Historic Waterfront at the City Marina. The City Marina provides for recreational and commercial boating operations while receiving more than 2,000,000 visitors annually. The Marina Dock Assistant performs journey-level tasks of more than ordinary difficulty and must be able to perform heavy physical labor safely and efficiently.” [Indeed]

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The City of Alexandria is urging locals to become acquainted with overdose treatment as cases rise both statewide and locally.

“The Virginia Department of Health’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reports that 2020 may be the worst year on record for fatal overdoses in Virginia,” the city said in a press release. “Preliminary figures from the second quarter of 2020 indicate a 66.8% increase in fatal drug overdoses in Virginia from the same period in 2019, suggesting a possible correlation with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The city release liked the increase to collective stress from the COVID-19 pandemic. The city urged residents engaging in substance abuse to seek treatment and recovery programs offered by the city.

“The City and the Alexandria Community Services Board offer an opioid treatment program, the Alexandria Residential Treatment Center, mental health and substance abuse residential services, outpatient treatment for substance use disorders and a Narcan-by-mail delivery program,” the city said.

The total number of fatal overdoses has increased in Virginia from 1,626 in 2019 to 2,053 just in the first half of 2020.

“Of those, 1,701 were related to opioid related overdoses,” the city said, “with 474 related to prescription opioids and 1,498 related to fentanyl, heroin, or both.”

There were 69 opioid overdoses in Alexandria in 2018, of which eight were fatal. In 2019, there were 73 opioid overdoses, of which 14 were fatal. As of November 30, 2020, there have been 85 opioid overdoses, of which 13 were fatal.

The city said residents can get access to Narcan, which can help someone experiencing an overdose, for free by mail.

“The drug Naloxone, also known as Narcan, can save the life of someone who is experiencing an opioid overdose, if given in time,” the city said. “Any Alexandria resident can obtain Narcan by mail for free by emailing their name and address to [email protected] or pick up a dose of the easy-to-use nasal spray by calling the Alexandria Health Department at 703.746.4888 or the City’s Opioid Response Coordinator at 703.746.3326. Narcan is also available at pharmacies without a prescription.”

Staff photo by Airey

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Morning Notes

Land Rover Alexandria Is Moving — A developer “has filed plans with Fairfax County to build [an] auto dealership and service center, on a 5.6-acre parcel fronting Van Dorn Street between the Capital Beltway and McGuin Drive, just outside the city of Alexandria… Beyer Auto Group will uproot its Land Rover dealership from its 22-year home at 2712 Duke St. in Alexandria to this new location, while establishing Jaguar sales on the property as well.” [Washington Business Journal]

Water Main Break Near Hospital — An extended, partial road closure was reported near Inova Alexandria Hospital yesterday (Tuesday) evening after a water main broke at the intersection of N. Jordan and Howard streets. [Twitter]

Women’s Halfway House Opens at New Location — “Friends of Guest House, the transitional organization for formerly incarcerated women, has some new digs. Twenty women moved into Friends of Guest House’s newly opened residential six month re-entry program at 120 S. Payne Street.” [Zebra]

New Insight into Severance Case — “Years after serial killer Charles Severance terrorized Alexandria, Virginia, and was convicted in three murders, the lead prosecutor is sharing key insights into the case… ‘He wanted it to be terrifying,’ [Commonwealth’s Attorney for Alexandria Bryan] Porter said of Severance’s crimes.” [WTOP]

APD Officer Saves Man from Overdose — “An Alexandria police officer saved the life of a man who had overdosed on opioids. Read his story, and learn how you too can save a life.” [City of Alexandria, Twitter]

Tonight: Beautification Awards Ceremony — “The 2019 Alexandria Beautification Awards ceremony will recognize residents, organizations, and businesses and community groups for their efforts in contributing to the beautification of the City of Alexandria. Awards will be presented in six categories.” [City of Alexandria]

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