Seven people were hospitalized Sunday after possible fentanyl exposure on the Golden Gate Bridge, authorities said.
At about 11:45 a.m., California Highway Patrol officials received reports of a drunken driver “swerving erratically” before coming to a stop on the south end of the bridge, according to CHP Officer Andrew Barclay.
Responding officers located the vehicle, whose driver was unconscious. A CHP officer who entered the vehicle to help the driver was overcome by a chemical substance, believed to be fentanyl, that was found in the car, Barclay said.
“He went down (became unconscious). Two others on the scene — a CHP officer and a tow-truck driver — tried to help the first officer out of the car, and administered Narcan,” Barclay said. Narcan is a nasal spray that will reverse the effects of narcotics and prevent an overdose.
The two were also exposed to a “white powdery substance” and became symptomatic, Barclay said. The unconscious driver was also given Narcan.
Signs of a fentanyl overdose include slowed breathing, dizziness and unconsciousness. There have been many reports of law enforcement across the country getting sick from fentanyl exposure on the job, but some experts have debunked the theory.
According to a 2017 report from the American College of Medical Toxicology and the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology, the odds of first responders overdosing from accidental on-the-job contact with fentanyl is “extremely low.”
Three more people arriving at the scene were exposed to the substance found in the car. In total, four CHP officers, one Golden Gate Bridge patrol officer, the tow-truck driver and the driver found in the car were taken to Marin General Hospital. There are no official medical updates as of late Sunday afternoon, but all seven are believed to be in stable condition, authorities said.
An investigation into the incident, which was deemed both a crime scene and hazardous materials scene, is under way.
The Alexander Avenue off and on ramps on Highway 101 are closed as authorities begin cleaning the vehicle and making it safe for removal. The process is expected to take some time, with anticipation of extended closures of the ramps Sunday.
Shwanika Narayan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter and Instagram: @shwanika