Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityWakefield High School student dies after apparent overdose in bathroom: Police | WJLA
Close Alert

Arlington community mourns, shows support for Wakefield HS after fatal student overdose

The Wakefield High School community held a rally on February 2, 2023, in remembrance of a student that died after an apparent drug overdose. (7News)
The Wakefield High School community held a rally on February 2, 2023, in remembrance of a student that died after an apparent drug overdose. (7News)
Facebook Share IconTwitter Share IconEmail Share Icon
Comment bubble

The student who reportedly overdosed in a bathroom at Wakefield High School in Arlington earlier this week died in the hospital on Thursday, according to the Arlington County Police Department.

Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) President Judith Davis and others at the school identified the student as 14-year-old Sergio Flores.

Families and community members organized what they called a 'March of Love and Support' on Friday afternoon, aimed at showing students and staff they're not alone as they grieve.

"Its important to let our kids know that we are here for them, we love them, we support them," said Janeth Valenzuela, co-founder of the Arlington Hispanic Parents Association, who helped organize Friday's march. "14 years old. His life was just starting. And it's sad."

Arlington County Police say they were called to Wakefield at about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday for a report of a juvenile male found unresponsive in a school bathroom. Police and school officials said the student was transported to a hospital in critical condition.

ACPD called the incident "an apparent drug overdose."

7News has learned the opioid overdose reversal medication known as Narcan was administered to Flores, but he passed away two days later in the hospital. On Friday, 7News spoke to a Wakefield student who said he found his classmate and friend, Flores, unconscious in the bathroom on Tuesday morning.

"I saw him laying down," the student recalled. "I was totally sad, because he was like a brother to me, and our other friends too, because we love him."

PTSA President Judith Davis had strong words for school system leaders during Thursday night's school board meeting.

"Every single one of you knew that this day would come. Say his name. Sergio Flores. He died. This kid is not going back to his family," Davis said.

SEE ALSO | 'Most deadly drug that I've seen': DEA insight on fentanyl crisis, advice for families

"I am a parent and also Wakefield’s PTSA president. I must say your presentation about Wakefield tonight was factually incorrect. It is not representative of the student body of Wakefield, and it lacks substance. And I'm talking about the achievements and the college visits and college enrollments. Incorrect and insufficient. Additionally, you must understand that these incorrect representative representations of these facts are one of the reasons why our students remain in a constant and ongoing mental health crisis. Leading to what you finally admitted tonight. The opioid crisis," Davis said addressing the school board. "Every single one of you in this room has been told by parents, teachers, students, PTSA community leaders that we will have someone die at Wakefield."

On Friday, parents who marched outside the school tried not to point fingers, and instead said the community must work together to try to keep students safe and prevent similar overdoses in the future.

"This is a global issue. It's happening everywhere. And we just need to take action," said Valenzuela. "Because it happened in Maryland, it's happened in Woodbridge, and in different schools. It's not only APS in Arlington. This is a crisis that needs to be addressed by many communities."

7News has been reporting on an increase in teen overdoses and growing concern about opioids and especially fentanyl, in several different counties throughout the DMV.

RELATED: Prince William Co. police issue warning after 3 teen overdoses, 1 of them fatal, in 5 days

"It's scary! This is kids! How do the drugs get inside the school? How does it happen?," another Wakefield parent said Friday. "I don't know. It's tough, how to answer these questions, but I am a mother and I have to stand together with this school community."

Wakefield High School principal Chris Willmore, who has worked at the school for more than 20 years, addressed the crowd of parents who marched outside the school on Friday.

"I wanted to thank you all for coming out and offering your support for the Wakefield community," Willmore said. "Our community is suffering. It has been a very hard week. And facing the challenges we are facing as a community is going to require us fighting and working together as a community. The schools, the government, the communities, our neighborhoods. It’s a very serious problem our children are facing and they need our help and it requires us to work together as one team."

7News also spoke with Willmore about Flores

"My heart is broken, but I can't even imagine the family of our student, just the situation and the pain they're feeling, and that's what I want to keep foremost, is what the family is dealing with right now," he said.

Wakefield High School canceled classes for Friday, but Willmore said classes would resume Monday with additional supports in place for students.

7News asked Willmore about the opioid and fentanyl crisis that's impacting young people and schools not just in Arlington, but across the region and across the country in recent months.

"I wish I had the words," he said. "We've - substance abuse for a long time has been a problem, but when I was in high school it was alcohol and marijuana, and you weren't facing the prospect of taking a pill and not waking up. I don't think at their age, they understand that."

This week, the DEA's Washington division told 7News that most of the fentanyl in the DMV area is coming from two cartels in Mexico. The DEA also says the cartels and their drug traffickers are often targeting young people, and using social media to peddle their counterfeit pills.

Willmore acknowledged that scary reality on Friday.

"To see people making money off production of fake pills that can kill children, and that there are people out there targeting children to get them addicted, is just unbelievable," Wakefield's principal said.

RELATED | Hundreds show up at Arlington Narcan training event after Wakefield HS apparent overdose

Confirmation of Flores' death comes after Wakefield High School had its second major emergency of the week, when it was put on lockdown Thursday for reports of a "possible trespasser" on school grounds.

Meanwhile, Flores' family has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for his funeral. As of Friday, they have raised over $25,000.

Arlington County Police said they are conducting a death investigation, and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine the cause and manner of death.

Arlington County Board Member Takis Karantonis was also at Wakefield on Friday and spent time talking to parents and listening to their concerns.

"For me, there is no way this can be a regular occurrence. This is an exceptionally sad day," Karantonis said. "We have to be more attentive. We have to invest more. More in our people, more in education. More in companionship with students and parents, and empower every single component of the solution. There's not a single part of stakeholdership that shouldn't be involved here. County officials, experts, educators, administrators, students, parents, and elected officials."

RELATED: How APS is responding after an apparent drug overdose at Wakefield HS

Comment bubble

Prior to this week's overdose, Arlington Public Schools had already been working to raise awareness and educate families about the dangers of opioids and fentanyl. APS said there's been a focus on stocking schools with Narcan and training staff on how to use it, along with substance abuse education and counselors for students inside the schools. For more resources from APS, click here.

Loading ...