BELLEVILLE, IL (KTVI)-- A spike in heroin deaths across the United States is hitting home in the St. Louis area.
Authorities reported a 4th suspected heroin death in Madison and St. Clair Counties in Illinois in the past 4 days.
The latest case came Monday morning in Belleville.
Dustin Wierciszewski, 28, of Belleville, was pronounced dead upon arrival at Memorial Hospital, authorities said.
His neighbors on Westbury Drive say he’d been in wheelchair since being seriously injured in an accident years ago.
His friends and parents were heartbroken, posting messages on his Facebook page about the hole now left in their lives.
There have been at least 80 deaths reported in the U.S. in recent weeks from a heroin – fentanyl mix.
Joe Beliveau, narcotics commander with the Illinois State Police Zone 6, out of Collinsville, expert said fentanyl was a pain-killing narcotic far more powerful and deadly than heroin alone.
There was no typical user, though people dealing with chronic pain and the high cost of prescription drugs were most often open to trying heroin, he said.
“It`s not one economical group, it`s the entire spectrum,” Beliveau said. “At some point they`re introduced to heroin which is a much stronger high and much, much, cheaper than abusing prescription pills…they have no idea the strength of the drug they`re receiving…it`s very difficult for them to get off and lead a normal life.
“You only get one time on this earth. You can’t come back. For any parent to lose a child, that’s just so sad,” said neighbor, Diane Gannon.
The Madison and St. Clair County Coroners were awaiting toxicology reports to determine whether there was any direct connection among the 4 deaths and any connection to the heroin-fentanyl epidemic.
Another drug death in Belleville Monday appeared to be from cocaine, authorities said.
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