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Heroin-fentanyl mix caused apparent ODs at Ross Correctional Institution

UPDATE @ 11:10 p.m.: A mixture of heroin and fentanyl has been identified by the Ohio State Highway Patrol as the substance that caused an apparent overdose of one inmate and required medical attention for 27 staff members at the Ross Correctional Institution (RCI) in Chillicothe on Wednesday morning.

Approximately 31 inmates not affected were removed from the cell block and relocated inside the facility. 

RCI collected a sample of the substance and relayed it to the state patrol crime lab for testing.

Here’s a breakdown of those affected: 

-- 29 individuals were possibly exposed to the mixture.

-- 28 individuals (23 correction officers, four nurses, and one inmate) were taken to a hospital

-- 24 required treatment.

--   1 inmate was treated on scene and was not taken to a hospital. 

--   1 staff member/first responder and one inmate remain in a hospital.

-- All other employees have been discharged. 

The patrol’s investigation continues.

UPDATE @ 3:18 p.m.

Ohio Civil Service Employees Association President Christopher Mabe, a former prison guard, said 28 staff members were exposed to the substance – seven direct and 21 indirect – and two inmates experienced direct exposure. 

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One staff member is expected to remain hospitalized overnight for observation, Mabe said. The one inmate who took the drug is in critical condition, he said.

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Mabe said he believes prison employees were shaking down a cell when they came across the substance. 

Mabe pointed to the opiate crisis and the battle to keep drugs out of prison as the root causes of the incident. 

“I was a corrections officer for 20-something years. I’ve never seen anything this extreme,” he said.

UPDATE @ 12 p.m.:

More than 300 additional doses of Narcan were delivered to Ross Correctional today after 24 guards, inmates and jail staff were affected by an unknown substance.

Of the 24 people affected, 15 are correctional officers and five are nurses, according to Ohio Highway Patrol Lt. Robert Sellers.

Twenty people were reportedly transported to Adena Regional Medical Center for treatment and 12 were given Narcan, a drug used to reverse the effects of opiate overdose.

“We are on the scene there to make sure the facility remains secure,” Sellers said.

The first call came in shortly after 9 a.m. to the patrol, which is responsible for investigating crimes at state prisons and on state-owned property.

Prisoners were evacuated from the cell block where the incident occurred and moved to another secure location in the facility.

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A hazardous material decontamination team is heading to RCI for cleanup.

UPDATE @ 11 a.m.: 

State troopers now say at least 24 people, a mixture of guards, inmates and jail staff, have been transported to area hospitals after exposure to an unknown substance at the Ross Correctional Institution in Chillicothe, our news partner WBNS-TV in Columbus reports. 

The conditions of those sickened was not immediately known. 

We’ll continue to update this story as we learn more. 


Several officers and inmates have reportedly been hospitalized after coming into contact with an unknown substance at the Ross Correctional Institute in Chillicothe, according to media reports. 

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State troopers said 11 guards and two inmates are being treated for possible overdoses after exposure to the unknown substance, according to our news partner WBNS-TV in Columbus. 

The incident has reportedly been contained to one cell block in the facility and a Hazmat team has been called, the station reports. 

Troopers added the facility is now safe and there is no danger to the public. 

Union-Scioto Schools, located near the prison said they are on lockdown due to the investigation. 

We’ll continue to update this page as new details become available. 

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