SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Within the last three years, over 1,800 plus people who have died due accidental drug overdoses in San Francisco. These aren’t just staggering statistics. Behind each death, a group of family and friends are left to grieve.

Chelsey Mony lost her fiance’ to an overdose.

“I got a call from his cell phone from the medical examiner. The call that no family member ever wants to get,” she said.

One year later, the memory of that call still takes Mony’s breathe away, the moment she learned her fiance’, Angelo Mandell died of an accidental fentanyl overdose.

“That memory will be stitched into my brain forever,” Mony said.

Hours before Mandell died, he was celebrating his birthday weekend with one of his best friends David Monticalvo. 

“That whole day he was so joyful,” Monticalvo recalled. “In fact, one of the last texts I received from him, he was so happy and positive and I lost a piece of my heart when he died.”

It happened on a Sunday night. Mandell’s friends went home because they had work early the next morning. But he wanted to continue to celebrate, so he went out by himself.

“Apparently, he met some people, ended up in the wrong place,” Monticalvo said. “He took something accidentally and overdosed.”

“I knew right after he died, 18 hours ago he was texting me about how much he loved life and now he’s gone…the fragility of life and the extent of this public health problem,” Monticalvo added.

Monticalvo and Mony want Mandell’s death to be a sobering reminder that this could happen to anyone.

“Most people have no idea that the drugs they are using recreationally could be laced with fentanyl,” said Monticalvo. “It could happen to anyone.”

Accidental drug overdoses are a leading cause of death in San Francisco. So far this year, over 451 people have died from them. That’s an average of 45 people per month. 

There is a misconception that it’s all homeless drug addicts, but the data shows otherwise. Seventy-two percent of those who died had a home address.  Just 24% did not. 

Accidental overdoses are happening all over the city, with only 21% in the Tenderloin. 

“This is very much a public health issue, locally and nationally,” said Dr. Jeffrey Hom with the city health department. He says 70% of the deaths are due to potent fentanyl.

“The greatest threat of fentanyl is that when too much is taken, it can slow their breathing and ultimately cause them to stop breathing,” Hom said.

Once this happens, people can die quickly. Nalxone or Narcan is the quickest way to help someone.

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“Naloxone restores someone’s breathing and therefore can be life saving,” said Hom. “It’s very easy to learn how to administer it and recognize an overdose. That’s why we believe people in the city should carry it because we all could be in a position to save a life.”

Like many others, Mandell’s life could have been saved.

To prevent more deaths, Hom said the city health department is working on, “promoting messages of safer use, increasing production of Nalxone and other harm reduction supplies, increasing access to low barrier treatment, we have a street overdose response team.”

Unfortunately, this is a story thousands upon thousands of families are living with. Three grains of salt or just the tip of pen, the equivalent of that tiny amount of fentanyl is all it can take to kill someone. 

Some people don’t call for help when someone starts to overdose out of fear of getting in trouble for illegal drugs. However, the good Samaritan law protects the caller from any criminal prosecution.