A man whose body was found lying on the side of the Kennedy Expressway in June died from an accidental overdose, according to the Cook County medical examiner.
Police found the 55-year-old man unresponsive near the southbound lanes at Lake Street around 6:50 p.m. on June 30. Detectives launched an investigation when he died about two hours later.
The medical examiner ran tests that recently determined the man had a lethal mix of alcohol and fentanyl in his system, according to records.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that can be used to treat extreme pain, is up to 100 times more potent than morphine. But the drug has found its way into the illicit narcotics supply chain, where it is commonly found mixed with heroin. Unsuspecting users can easily overdose because they don’t know fentanyl has been mixed into their drugs.
Authorities say fentanyl is now finding its way into cocaine, methamphetamine, and other drug supply lines, which could lead to even more accidental overdoses and deaths.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 93,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States last year, 30% more than in 2019. About 62% of last year’s overdose deaths — about 57,000 cases — were attributed to fentanyl.
In Cook County, 1,833 of last year’s deaths are listed as “opioid-related” by the medical examiner. That’s a 41% increase compared to 2019.