Thursday, April 6, 2017

Did airline pilot and wife know they were taking powerful elephant tranquilizer?

CENTERVILLE, Ohio - A Spirit Airlines pilot and his wife died of an overdose of cocaine and carfentanil, a drug so powerful its primary use is to tranquilize rhinos and elephants, the coroner’s office in Montgomery County, Ohio confirmed on Tuesday.

Brian Halye, 36, and Courtney Halye, 34, were found dead in their Dayton-area home in March by their four children, who called police. 

The toxicology results confirm what the coroner’s office had previously hinted at: the commercial passenger airline pilot died of an accidental drug overdose. 

The deaths came a week after Brian Halye’s last flight, prompting criticism of the random system used to test pilots.

Local health officials say the results are consistent with an increasing pattern of people using extremely powerful drugs, and combining potent opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil with cocaine and other drugs.

The autopsy does not make clear if the Halyes knew the cocaine they were taking contained carfentanil — a synthetic opioid 100 times stronger than fentanyl and 1,000 times more powerful than morphine. 

It does indicate, however, that both Halyes took the drug by injection. Courtney Halye had needle puncture marks on her right thigh and left wrist, the report shows, while Brian Halye had a single needle puncture mark on his right arm. 

Intentionally injecting cocaine into the body with morphine, heroin or other drugs is known as a “speedball.”

The powerful concoction has killed celebrities, including former Saturday Night Live star John Belushi more than three decades ago. 

Earlier this month, Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco warned Cincinnati-area cocaine users that their stashes could be cut with fentanyl or heroin without their knowledge, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson last week told a U.S. Senate subcommittee that he believed drug dealers may be mixing cocaine and fentanyl as a way to increase opioid addiction in the black community, according to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.

The Dayton Daily News reports the autopsy report doesn't indicate if the Halyes knew the cocaine contained carfentanil - a synthetic opioid 100 times stronger than fentanyl and 1,000 times more powerful than morphine. But the autopsy report does show that both Halyes took the drug by injection.

Original article can be found here:   http://www.fox25boston.com

Often used to boost the potency of heroin, the deadly opioid carfentanil is increasingly showing up in cocaine and other drugs, including counterfeit pills resembling prescription drugs.

A synthetic opioid so potent it can bring down an elephant is partly responsible for the deaths of a Centerville airline pilot and his wife, according to autopsies released Tuesday. 

What’s unclear is whether Brian and Courtney Halye knowingly took carfentanil or if the drug hundreds of times more potent than heroin was laced into the cocaine also detected in their bodies.

It is known that dealers are increasingly putting fentanyl and carfentanil — both extraordinarily powerful opioids often used to boost the potency of street heroin — into other drugs, including cocaine, according to officials. 

It’s a frightening prospect to street drug users, considering a few granules of carfentanil no larger than table salt can kill a person. 

Carfentanil is 100 times stronger than fentanyl and 10,000 times more powerful than morphine, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Its primary legitimate purpose is a tranquilizer for large animals like rhinos and elephants. Carfentanil has been linked to a significant number of overdose deaths nationwide, including fatalities in Montgomery County.

Last September, the DEA issued a nationwide warning about the health and safety risks of carfentanil that can also resemble powdered cocaine.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office attributed 19 deaths in January to cocaine mixed with more powerful opioids. 

"If someone is using cocaine, they might not be expecting it to be mixed with fentanyl," U.S. Attorney Carole Rendon told Cleveland.com.

Original article can be found here:   http://www.mydaytondailynews.com




Three weeks after Ohio couple Brian and Courtney Halye were found dead by their children in their Centerville home, authorities are still trying to determine what happened. The toxicology reports haven’t yet come back, but the coroner listed the preliminary cause of death as one that is “consistent with a heroin or fentanyl overdose.”

But as the family awaits answers, the couple’s four children are struggling to make sense of their sudden loss.

“They are with relatives,” Courtney’s friend, Monica Camacho, tells PEOPLE. “The family has a strong support system.”

But she says, “They’re not doing well. They’re very sad. This was a shock to them, and they’re surrounded by people who are helping them cope with this.”

Brian, 36, was a pilot for Spirit Airlines. He married Courtney, 34, in 2012. They each had two children from previous relationships — he, two daughters and she, a son and a daughter. The children ranged in age from 9 to 13.

On March 16, the Halye’s children peeked into their parents’ bedroom after they failed to wake them up for school. After finding their unresponsive parents, the 13-year-old son called 911 and told the operator, “I just woke up and my two parents are on the floor.”

“My sister said they’re not waking up,” the boy continued as the three sisters cried in the background. “They’re not breathing… They were very cold.”

A police incident report from January 2016 alleged that Courtney — a Type 1 diabetic — had a history of drug use.

According to the report obtained by PEOPLE, Courtney’s mother, Nancy Case, had grown concerned after the two women had a phone conversation. Case contacted Centerville police and said that her daughter was suicidal and abusing narcotics.

Brian had also contacted police around that time after returning from a flight from Detroit to find Courtney missing, the Dayton Daily News reported. According to the newspaper, she returned to their house later and locked him out. When he forced entry, he allegedly found her holding two unloaded guns, according to the newspaper.

Courtney was allegedly taken by medics to the hospital for treatment, The Dayton Daily News reported, after police said she appeared mentally unstable and possibly intoxicated or having a medical issue related to diabetes.
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As those close to the Halyes await their answers, they are keeping the children in their thoughts and prayers.

“At this point, the focus of everyone is on the kids,” says Camacho. “They are great kids; they don’t deserve this. Everyone’s heart just goes out to them.”

Original article can be found here:   http://people.com

Brian Halye with the couple’s three children


Brian Halye and son








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