Candlelight vigil held in memory of girl, 15, who overdosed on fentanyl at Hollywood school

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Friday, September 23, 2022 8:08PM
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A candlelight vigil was held in memory of a 15-year-old girl who overdosed on a fentanyl-laced pill on the campus of Hollywood's Bernstein High School.

HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A candlelight vigil was held Thursday night in memory of a 15-year-old girl who overdosed on a fentanyl-laced pill on the campus of Hollywood's Bernstein High School.

Some at the memorial for Melanie Ramos expressed sorrow that she fell victim to the opioid crisis, while others said they were angry that the school has not done enough to protect children.

"My daughter's also 15. My heart broke," said Esmeralda Martin. "I talk to her and I tell her, 'I come to drop you off at school and I want to pick you up from school."

Before the vigil, parents attended a meeting hosted by Bernstein High School administrators and Los Angeles Police Department officials, including the LAPD detective who is leading the investigation into Melanie's death.

"There's no such thing as a safe pill out on the streets," Detective John Lambert told the attendees.

Members of Melanie's family sat in the front row of the auditorium where the meeting was held. They and other parents expressed frustration about what is being done to keep their children safe during the fentanyl crisis.

"This was a meeting like every other meeting that LAUSD has," said parent Midgalia Torres, referring to the Los Angeles Unified School District. "And nothing gets done after the meeting."

Earlier Thursday, LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced that doses of Narcan, or naloxone, will also be provided to all LAUSD school police officers.

"We are experiencing a devastating epidemic. Whether we talk about fentanyl or the many variations of fentanyl, there is an abundance of drugs that students are having ready access to," Carvalho said at a news conference. "Effective the second week of October, every one of our schools at L.A. Unified will be outfitted with the appropriate tools, including Narcan available for students who may experience a condition of overdose through the consumption, the ingestion of fentanyl in any type of format."

Narcan, if administered in a timely manner, can counteract the effects of an overdose and allow the patient to resume breathing. The treatment is only temporary, lasting between 30 and 90 minutes, but is designed to allow first-responders to arrive and begin more permanent treatment.

Some parents feel that the school district's response is being implemented too late.

"That is a rubber band of a Band-Aid for what has already been going on," Torres said of the Narcan deployment. "We needed that a long time ago. That doesn't solve the problem."