Child Dies of Suspected Fentanyl Overdose, Parents Arrested

Child Dies of Suspected Fentanyl Overdose, Parents Arrested
Investigators collect evidence from the home of Evan Frostick, 26, and Madison Bernard, 23, the parents of a 15-month-old toddler found unresponsive in a bedroom in Santa Rosa, Calif., on May 9, 2022. (Santa Rosa Police Department via AP)
The Associated Press

SANTA ROSA, Calif.—The parents of a 15-month-old toddler were arrested for her death after the child was found unresponsive in their Northern California home where police found drug paraphernalia and fentanyl, authorities said.

Evan Frostick, 26, and Madison Bernard, 23, were arrested at their Santa Rosa apartment and booked for alleged cruelty to a child likely to produce great bodily injury or death, Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Christian Mahurin said Wednesday.

Authorities may file manslaughter charges based on the results of an autopsy and toxicology test on the toddler expected in the next few weeks, he said.

Mahurin said he didn't know if the child's parents have retained attorneys to speak on their behalf. They are scheduled to be arraigned later Wednesday and could be assigned a public defender if they can't afford an attorney, he said.

Santa Rosa police officers, fire officials and emergency crews responded to the family's apartment Monday after Bernard called 911 to report her child was unresponsive, Mahurin said.

“The main concern was that the toddler was in a bed and in a bedroom that had both paraphernalia for fentanyl and fentanyl in the room and sprinkled on the bed,” he said.

After serving a search warrant, detectives found 2.5 to 3 grams of suspected fentanyl and paraphernalia in a bedroom, including on the bed the child shared with her parents, and on the floor where the child often played, Mahurin said.

“Anything from 2 milligrams or more can be considered a lethal dose so, having that much just lying around can be incredibly dangerous,” he said.

Mahurin said there is a growing concern about children being exposed to fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid used for pain relief that has been blamed for a spike in San Francisco Bay Area overdoses.

“We understand that people use recreational drugs. We also understand that people with addiction and substance issues use drugs regularly. We understand adults make those choices and those decisions, but really keeping them out of the reach of children is one of our primary concerns,” he said.

In 2019, Patrick O’Neill, 29, and his 13-month-old son, Liam, died of fentanyl overdoses. Federal prosecutors charged three people with the distribution of fentanyl in relation to the deaths and linked the drugs to a network of dealers in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. They were sentenced to between six and eight years in federal prison.