published Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Police: 2 dead after chewing on pain patches to get high

Authorities in Athens, Tenn., say two of three men who died Friday of apparent drug overdoses had misused the pain medication Fentanyl.

Athens Police det. Fred Schultz said this morning that officers were called to two separate incidents, one of them involving Fentanyl pain medication patches, made to be worn on a person's skin.

Harold “Marty” Coleman, 48, of 1004 South Jackson Street, Athens, was found lying in the driveway at his mobile home, Schultz said. He had a pain patch in his mouth.

Coleman had a prescription for the patches and other narcotics found inside the residence.

While emergency medical officials were preparing to transport Coleman's body, authorities found 46-year-old Donald Sturdivant in the laundry room of the home unconscious but breathing, the detective said.

Sturdivant died a short time later after he was taken to the hospital, he said.

Athens police also investigated a third overdose the same morning at a Palos Street residence where Johnny Ghormley, 29, was found dead, but Schultz said pain patches were not involved in that case.

A Fentanyl patch was involved in an juvenile overdose that happened the first weekend of April, Schultz said. The juvenile survived.

The juvenile's case and Ghormley's death are not otherwise related to Coleman's and Sturdivant's deaths, he said.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.comor 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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