MIAMI -- A 10-year-old boy from a drug-ridden Miami neighborhood apparently died of a fentanyl overdose last month, becoming one of Florida's littlest victims of the opioid crisis, authorities said Tuesday. But how he came in contact with the powerful drug is a mystery.
Fifth-grader Alton Banks died June 23 after a visit to the pool in the city's Overtown section. He began vomiting after coming home and was found unconscious that evening. Preliminary toxicology tests show he had fentanyl in his system, authorities said.
"We don't believe he got it at his home," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said. "It could be as simple as touching it. It could have been a towel at the pool."
She added: "We just don't know."
The case has underscored how frighteningly prevalent fentanyl has become -- and how potent it is. Exposure to just tiny amounts can be devastating.
Rundle said, "this is a very, very scary time for all of us," CBS Miami reports. "It appears that he somehow came into contact with a fentanyl and heroin mixture, and if that's the case, then it's everyone's worst nightmare," Rundle said.
Investigators said Alton may been exposed to the drug on his walk home in Overtown, a poor, high-crime neighborhood where Assistant Miami Fire Chief Pete Gomez said he has seen a spike in overdoses in the past year and where needles sometimes litter the streets.
"There is an epidemic," Gomez said. "Overtown seems to have the highest percentage of where these incidents are occurring."
Alton's mother told CBS Miami that she is devastated. She said he wanted to be an engineer and loved the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newtown.
Detectives are still trying to piece together the boy's final day. Rundle appealed to the public for information.
"This is of such great importance. We need to solve this case," she said. "I believe this may be the youngest victim of this scourge in our community."
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