Opioid use suspected in Calgary crashes

CALGARY — A man high on fentanyl or some similar powerful opioid caused a series of hit-and-runs on a Calgary expressway and almost overdosed before being revived, city police said Thursday.

The growing use of new synthetic opioids that can be lethal even in very small amounts has led to more motorists being found severely impaired and near death, according to some emergency responders.

“We’ve had cases where people have pulled over as they’ve gone into … cardiac arrest,” said Alex Forrest, head of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg union.

“People think they can drive (while on opioids), they’re looking after children. They believe they can handle it.”

Calgary police Insp. Ken Thrower said it was a “miracle” no one was seriously injured or killed in the collisions Wednesday night.

Motorists called 911 to report an erratic driver who was colliding with other vehicles.

The driver eventually crashed. When officers got to the scene, they revived him with naloxone — a drug used to prevent overdoses from powerful opioids such as fentanyl.

“They revived him and prevented him from overdosing,” Thrower said. “The officers had trained and administered that properly and may have well saved the individual’s life.”

Police laid charges of impaired driving and careless driving.

Calgary police are receiving more reports of drug-impaired driving including opioids, cannabis and other less-powerful drugs.

Thrower said the increase may be due to more public awareness about the dangers of drug-impaired driving, similar to the growing public response to drunk driving.

Forrest said first responders in Winnipeg respond to opioid-related calls virtually every day, including in homes and vehicles.

Police forces across the country have warned of the growing use of opioids such as fentanyl, a synthetic drug 100 times more powerful than heroin, and its even more-powerful relative, carfentanil.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving said it has seen a big increase in drug-related driving offences, but the vast majority involve softer drugs such as cannabis.

“I think the reason why you see so much cannabis is because a lot of young people use it and they don’t see it as impairing as alcohol, so they’re willing to take the risk of … getting behind the wheel,” said the group’s chief executive officer,” Andrew Murie. “I think with other drugs … the impairment is so severe that I don’t think most of those users see driving as an option.”

The federal and provincial governments have stepped up efforts to detect and deter drug-impaired driving with the looming legalization of marijuana next year.

New roadside saliva-test kits that can detect a wide variety of drugs are being implemented and public awareness campaigns are being planned.

In Saskatchewan alone, 56 police officers are trained as drug recognition officers, with 18 more scheduled for training soon, according to RCMP.

Murie called on provincial governments to ensure licence-suspension rules are tough enough for when marijuana becomes legal.

He said one example would be a zero-tolerance requirement for cannabis for new drivers under 21, similar to the rules for alcohol.

Just Posted

Huge RV resort proposed for Buffalo Lake

Some residents feel 800-lot RV resort too big for area

Updated: Red Deer gets WHL Bantam Draft and Awards Banquet

WHL will holds its draft and awards ceremony in Red Deer for next three years

Land wanted for Central Alberta Foodgrains project

23rd year for Lacombe area charity

Stolen vehicle found thanks to tip from motorist

Charges laid against Red Deer man and Leduc County woman

City prepares for legal marijuana

Legalized recreational marijuana expected to have impact on many city policies

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Greyhound cleared to end routes in northern B.C., Vancouver Island

Company says nine routes have dropped 30% in ridership in last five years

Evangelist Billy Graham, who reached millions, dies at 99

MONTREAT, N.C. — The Rev. Billy Graham, who transformed American religious life… Continue reading

Amid a flood of plastic, big companies see opportunity

LONDON — Public awareness of the problem of plastic waste is swelling… Continue reading

Ambulance’s slow response time angers family

Woman suffers stroke, waits nearly an hour for ambulance

Over-burdened refugee tribunal ditches legislated timelines for hearings

OTTAWA — The Immigration and Refugee Board is giving up on following… Continue reading

Sheraton Celebrity Dance Off profile: Troy Gillard

** Sheraton Celebrity Dance Off takes place on April 14 at the Sheraton Red Deer

New mobile paramedic program starts in Red Deer

Paramedics provide on-site care to those with chronic conditions

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month