12-year-old Richland Hills girl died from fentanyl at her home as police investigate

·2 min read

A 12-year-old girl died from fentanyl in May at her Richland Hills home, making her one of the youngest victims of the drug in Tarrant County this year, according to a ruling released Friday by the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.

The girl was identified as Ellianna Martinez, who died on May 31 from fentanyl toxicity, officials at the medical examiner’s said on its website Friday. The manner of her death was listed as undetermined.

Officials have said the ruling on Ellie’s death took more than 90 days because of toxicology and other tests that needed to be completed.

In most cases, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid used to treat patients with chronic severe pain or severe pain following surgery, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Illicit fentanyl is smuggled into the United States through Mexico and mixed with other drugs including heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.

Richland Hills police Capt. Sheena McEachran wrote Friday in an email that the case was under investigation. No one has been arrested.

Ellie’s family could not be reached Friday for comment.

Her reported death comes after a deadly year in overdose deaths in the United States. Overdose deaths soared to a record 93,000 in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Associated Press.

In Texas, overdose deaths increased 29% in 2020, and almost 4,200 Texans lost their lives to drug overdoses, according to CDC statistics.

Just a day after Ellie died, 22-year-old Cassandra Saldivar of Arlington died at an Arlington hospital from toxic effects of fentanyl and methamphetamine, according to the medical examiner’s website.

Earlier this year, Fort Worth police issued a warning about an increase in fentanyl overdose cases in the area, leading to an “alarming number” of deaths. The number of deaths related to fentanyl in Fort Worth and Tarrant County were not available on Friday.

Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth continues to see a spike in overdoses. As of August, 27 patients had been admitted to Cook Children’s for opioid ingestion in 2021, compared to 16 in 2020.

Here are some signs of opioid addiction in teens provided by Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth:

Isolation

Change in friend groups

Loss of interest in sports, school and hobbies

Lack of motivation

Declining grades

Difficulty communicating or slurred speech

Lower energy levels

Change in appearance

Aggressive behavior

Drug paraphernalia

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