Sonoma County District Attorney admits story of 6-year-old dying of fentanyl overdose in playground was fabricated

Fentanyl has an amazing effect on law enforcement officers, who experience medically impossible things in its presence out of delusion, distress or deception. But Sonoma County District Attorney Carla Rodriguez's office is in a league of its own. It published a fake story about a 6-year-old child's lethal fentanyl overdose in a playground as a warning to citizens.

The stern PSA presented the doom of "Lisa," a soccer-playing, horse-loving kid. Lisa was having a good time at the playground when she "fell down and made this gurgling noise and then went limp." She didn't even ingest the drug, but merely "saw some white powder and touched it. That's all she did… All of a sudden, something just wasn't right. Her pupils look like little dots."

The problem is the same one as with the fainting cops. Fentanyl cannot cause this reaction through skin exposure, and it cannot cause it instantly even when ingested. The California Newsroom called Rodriguez to ask questions, and the anecdote soon disappeared from the DA office's website. The Sonoma County Coroner's Office confirmed it had no record of a child dying from fentanyl exposure at a playground.

It was an ad campaign, created by Amaturo Sonoma Media Group as part of a $340,000 Federal grant.

Emails we obtained show that DA Rodriguez was personally involved in creating the public service campaign, but she told us 'Lindsey's Story' was entirely Amaturo's creation. 

"It is not based on a true story," Rodriguez said.

We asked the DA if she had any concerns about the fake story being alarmist.  

"I am not concerned about people being too alert about the dangers of fentanyl," Rodriguez said. "Period. I am not."

A toxicologist consulted by The California Newsroom pointed out two false myths propogated by the DA's tall tale. First, that there are "just piles of fentanyl powder out in parks." Second, that one can overdose on fentanyl by touching it: "The science is very sound," Dr. Ryan Marino told them. "There has never actually been a case of this."

Contacted by SFGate, Rodriguez insisted that the medical experts are wrong and that "she's seen some evidence that touching fentanyl can be hazardous."

"I don't want to scare people," Rodriguez said. "The science about whether or not you can just touch it is developing … but I absolutely do not want to employ scare tactics, we're trying to educate."