NFL star quarterback Sam Ehlinger's younger brother, Jake Ehlinger, who played as a University of Texas linebacker, died in May this year and on Thursday his family revealed his cause of death.
A statement on Twitter revealed that Jake died of an accidental overdose of what was believed to be Xanax laced with toxic drugs including fentanyl.
"The spread of counterfeit pills is an ongoing and significant issue throughout our country, particularly in schools, colleges and universities," the family said in a statement. "As our family continues to process Jake's death, we felt it was important to share these details with the hope that Jake will not have died in vain. We pray that sharing Jake's story will help shed light on this problem and prevent other families from also tragically losing a loved one."
Drug-related deaths are on the rise in the U.S. Earlier this year it was reported that overdose deaths alone soared to a record 93,000 last year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. And while prescription painkillers were once the nation's leading cause of drug overdose, heroin and fentanyl, a dangerously powerful opioid, have surpassed them in recent years. Fentanyl was developed to treat intense pain from ailments like cancer but has increasingly been sold illicitly and mixed with other drugs. Its dangers are highlighted in the number of deaths among celebrities, including "The Flash" star Logan Williams, who died over a year ago from "unintentional illicit drug toxicity [fentanyl]."
"Toxicological analysis detected fentanyl in a range where lethal outcomes have been reported," a coroner's report obtained by the New York Post in September read. "Even small amounts of fentanyl have been shown to be potentially toxic."
Logan died while in residential care in Burnaby, British Columbia, on April 2, 2020. The report stated he had a history of "consuming illicit substances" and also "struggled with mental health."
Actor Michael K. Williams meanwhile died earlier this year of acute drug intoxication. The actor, known for playing Omar Little on “The Wire,” had fentanyl, parafluorofentanyl, heroin, and cocaine in his system when he died Sept. 6 in Brooklyn.
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