Fentanyl discovered at Santa Rosa home after unresponsive toddler dies; parents arrested

The child was a 15-month-old girl, police said. Her parents face charges of child cruelty.|

Santa Rosa police are investigating whether fentanyl exposure played a role in the death of a 15-month-old girl who died Monday morning.

Just after 10:30 a.m., her mother discovered she was unresponsive and called authorities to their home in the 800 block of Sonoma Avenue, according to the Santa Rosa Police Department.

The child, who had not been breathing, was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Her name has not been released.

Officers discovered suspected fentanyl in the area where the child was discovered, according to the Police Department. Detectives from its domestic violence/sexual assault, violent crimes and narcotic teams were called in.

They discovered packaged and unpackaged fentanyl and paraphernalia in “numerous parts of the primary bedroom, including in the bed the toddler shared with her parents,” police said.

The parents are identified as Santa Rosa residents Evan Frostick, 26, and Madison Bernard, 23. Both were arrested on suspicion of cruelty to a child likely to produce great bodily injury or death.

No other children were present.

Both suspects are in custody at the Sonoma County Jail in lieu of $100,000 each and are scheduled to appear in Sonoma County Superior Court as early as Wednesday.

An autopsy will be performed this week and additional charges are pending, including manslaughter, Sgt. Chris Mahurin said.

North Bay lawmakers and experts have decried the impact fentanyl has had across the region in recent years.

Since 2017, Sonoma County has tracked more than 500 overdose deaths, including 173 in 2020. At least 70% of those deaths were linked to fentanyl, according to county data.

From February 2017 to December 2017, the opioid was present in 14 overdoses in Sonoma County. In 2018, fentanyl deaths rose to 31 and hovered around that same number in 2019.

In 2020, 111 deaths were linked to fentanyl, according to county records.

Fentanyl’s toxicity makes it 100 times more powerful than morphine — even a trace amount of it can be deadly. It also can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled when in a powder.

Exposure had been linked to at least one previous death involving a Sonoma County toddler.

In September 2019, fentanyl was blamed for the deaths of Patrick O’Neill, 29, and his 13-month-old son, Liam, who were discovered at their Santa Rosa home on Darek Drive.

Investigators say O’Neill used fentanyl with friends before heading home with his son. His mother, Emily Guillory of Petaluma, said she believes Liam crawled out of bed that night and ingested fentanyl he found on the floor.

Three defendants were held liable for allowing O’Neill access to the opioids, which subsequently took the life of his son.

All three were convicted in federal court.

You can reach Staff Writer Colin Atagi at colin.atagi@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @colin_atagi

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