Drug overdoses are leading cause of accidental deaths in Travis County

For the third year in a row, the Travis County Medical Examiner said drug overdoses are the county's leading cause of accidental deaths. People are now calling for action.

The Travis County Medical Examiner's Office released its 2023 annual report revealing 279 people died from a fentanyl overdose. 

For Carolyn Williams, that number is not just a number.

"This is my son," she said.

Williams says her son passed away from a fentanyl overdose, and she says it caused some of the worst pain she has ever felt.

"It devastated me to that point where I couldn't comprehend, I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep," said Williams.

As much as it continues to hurt to this day, she wants to share her son’s story in hopes of change and preventing future drug overdoses.

"This is ridiculous. This is man-made in the United States and I don't understand why it can't be prevented," she said.

In 2019, the Travis County Medical Examiner's Office reported 22 accidental deaths with fentanyl detected. That number just continued to grow in the years following. In 2020, there were 35 deaths; 2021 had 118; 2022 had 245; and 2023 with 279 deaths.

The Travis County Medical Examiner's Office says drug overdoses remain the leading cause of accident deaths in the county.

"It's the third year in a row that we've seen the rate of fentanyl deaths increasing in Travis County, based on that medical examiner's report, and although it's increasing at a lower rate, it is still horrible news. We need to treat this like the public health crisis that it is," said Travis County Judge Andy Brown.

It is a call for action Williams says she is firmly behind.

"We need more testing strips. We need more Narcan. We need more help like harm reduction. We need these resources. We need the funding," said Williams.