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'It's an invisible killer': San Diego Sheriff's release body cam of deputy's exposure to fentanyl

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Posted at 3:14 PM, Aug 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-11 12:52:27-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The San Diego Sheriff's Department shared body camera video on Thursday showing a deputy overdose after coming into contact with fentanyl last month, in an effort to raise awareness around the potentially deadly drug.

According to the department, Deputy David Faiivae from the San Marcos station came into contact with fentanyl while processing drugs at the scene of an arrest on July 3.

A white powder at the scene tested positive for fentanyl.

"I was like, 'hey dude. Too close. You can't get that close to it.' A couple seconds later he took some steps back and collapsed," said Corporal Scott Crane, who was training Deputy Faiivae that day.

Body cam video showed Faiivae collapse to the ground, as Crane rushed to grab Narcan, an overdose reversal drug, to administer. As Faiivae struggled to breathe, Crane called for more Narcan while more deputies responded. He can be heard tell Faiivae repeatedly, "I'm not going to let you die" and telling him to try and breathe:

"It's an invisible killer. He would've died in that parking lot if he was alone," said Crane.

Crane said after Faiivae was taken into an ambulance, he overdosed once again and "was ODing the whole way to the hospital."

"I don't think people realize the severity of just how deadly [fentanyl] really is," said Faiivae.

The dramatic video was released in an effort to show the potentially deadly impact of the synthetic drug. According to Sheriff Bill Gore, fentanyl deaths in California have spiked nearly 46% over the last year.

Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine and just a few grains of the drug can be deadly, according to the DEA and SDSO. Deputies in San Diego were the first in the state to begin carrying the nasal spray Naloxone, or Narcan, to counteract the effects of opioids, according to the department.

"The dangers of fentanyl are real," Gore said in the video. "Please take the time to share this video. It might save the life of your son, daughter, friend or loved one."

Anyone who is struggling with substance abuse can call the San Diego Access and Crisis Line at 888-724-7240 or visit the county's "It's Up To Us" website for resources.


Several medical experts have expressed skepticism over the video shared by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department regarding the reported fentanyl overdose. The American College of Medical Toxicology says, "the drug must enter the blood and brain from the environment. Toxicity cannot occur from simply being in proximity to the drug."

A statement from the department said, "On August 5, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department released a public safety video related to the dangers of Fentanyl. We have received inquiries into the authenticity and accuracy of the video message. The video was created from an actual incident involving our deputy as he processed a white powdery substance that tested positive for Fentanyl."

ABC 10News has spoken with several medical experts and SDSO's Undersheriff regarding the video: