6 Spring Break overdose victims in Florida include Army football player; arrest made

WILTON MANORS, Fla. — Six college students -- including at least two cadets from the U.S. Military Academy -- overdosed on fentanyl-laced cocaine at a Florida vacation home where they were staying for Spring Break, officials said.

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The students were renting a home in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Wilton Manors, the Sun-Sentinel reported. A West Point official told The Associated Press that one of the cadets who was hospitalized is an Army football player.

“The U.S. Military Academy is aware of the situation involving West Point cadets, which occurred Thursday night in Wilton Manors, FL,” West Point’s public affairs office said in a statement. “The incident is currently under investigation and no other details are available at this time.”

Update 6:10 p.m. EST March 12: The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said that Axel Giovany Casseus, 21, of Lauderhill, has been linked to the overdoses at the Wilton Manors residence, The Sun-Sentinel reported.

Casseus was arrested Friday for selling cocaine to an undercover officer, the newspaper reported. He was charged with one felony count of trafficking cocaine less than 200 grams. He is being held at the Broward Main Jail, with bail set at $50,000, according to online booking records.

During Casseus’ bond hearing Saturday, authorities identified him as the drug dealer who sold the fentanyl-laced cocaine to the students, WPLG-TV reported. Authorities said Casseus delivered 43 grams of cocaine Friday to an undercover detective, who followed him to a hotel, according to the television station.

Update 6:13 a.m. EST March 12: Police said one person was arrested late Friday in connection with the overdose of six college students in Wilton Manors, the Sun-Sentinel reported. The person’s name has not been released, and the charges have not been specified, the newspaper reported.

Original report: After using the drug on Thursday, at least two of the victims immediately went into cardiac arrest. Two people who had not taken the drug attempted to administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and absorbed enough fentanyl to also suffer overdoses, the newspaper reported.

“It brings great concern that there could be other ODs over the next couple of days,” City of Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Stephen Gollan told WFOR-TV.

Four of the victims were taken to Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, and the other two were taken to Holy Cross Health, the Sun-Sentinel reported. By Friday, one person had been released, two remained in critical condition and on ventilators, and three were in stable condition, police told reporters.

“We saw paramedics pulling kids out of the house unconscious and just laying them on the grass,” Dana Fumosa, who lives next door to the home, told WSVN-TV.

The six victims were found in different overdose states and were all taken to hospitals, Gollan said. A seventh person, a woman, was also later taken to the hospital and treated, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Some of the patients were able to regain a heartbeat after being given Narcan, an overdose drug, but four were still in respiratory arrest when they were transported to the hospitals, WTVJ-TV reported.

“These are healthy, young adults, college students in the prime of their life, and getting this drug into their system, it’s unknown what the recovery will be,” Gollan told reporters.

The names of the victims have not been released.

The home is listed as an Airbnb, WSVN reported. One neighbor said the home sleeps 10 people and has a pool in the backyard, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Gollan said that because Spring Break has just begun, overdose cases could become “much worse” if laced drugs are being used, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

“This is a great concern because you have a drug that’s laced with unknown substance here, and I mean, it’s just the beginning of Spring Break,” Gollan said.