Investigation underway into the death of a student at Los Altos High School

MOUNTAIN VIEW – South Bay authorities are investigating the death of a Los Altos High School student and the possibility that it was linked to fentanyl poisoning.

The police did not reveal the identity of the student.

In one letter to the school community, the Mountain View Police Department said its investigation is in the “very early stages.” Authorities have warned families of the “possibility of deadly narcotics being provided to students in our community.”

“We do not know if other students may be in possession of narcotics, or how the deceased student obtained the narcotics or from whom,” the Mountain View Police Department said in a statement Friday. “We are also actively investigating whether this is related to fentanyl poisoning. We know a family is grieving, a school community is grieving and we have mobilized all available resources to try to bring justice to the student and his family.

The student’s official cause of death has yet to be determined by the coroner’s office.

Police said they are in constant contact with the school district about ways to provide outreach and education to staff and students.

Mountain View Los Altos School District administrators sent their “heartfelt condolences” to the student’s family, friends and school community in a letter to the campus community.

Los Altos High School will have bereavement counselors offered on campus for staff and students to process the loss “as long as necessary.”

“Please know that students are encouraged to contact a teacher, counselor or other trusted adult on campus at any time to speak – we are here to support you as you process this information,” the letter reads.

On the same day the teen was found, Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez announced the formation of a fentanyl task force, which will include parents of children who have overdosed and are drug deaths. The panel’s initiatives will include a dedicated law enforcement team as well as a public service and social media campaign to raise awareness of illegal fentanyl-containing drugs and the dangers of fentanyl.

“We will hold our first meeting on April 15 and will complete our work in less than three months because we know there is an urgent need,” Chavez told a press conference.

Fentanyl is the cause of a growing number of deaths in Santa Clara County, especially among 18 to 25 year olds, Chavez said. In 2019, there were 29 deaths from fentanyl. This number has increased to 90 in 2020.

“The most alarming thing is that the number jumped to 135 deaths in 2021,” Chavez said. “In 2022, there have already been eight deaths.”

Fentanyl is estimated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, said task force member and substance abuse and addiction expert Dr. Erin Woodhead.

“Fentanyl is so strong,” Woodhead said. “Because of this, there is such a high risk of overdose and this is compounded when people use fentanyl with other drugs.”

Anyone with information related to the Mountain View case can contact Sgt. David Fisher at [email protected]

Martha K. Merrill