Police Investigate Fatal Heroin Overdose 'Not Related' To 3 Other Unalaska Overdoses

Nov 20, 2019

Unalaska's Department of Public Safety is investigating recent drug overdoses, including a fatal incident on Oct. 16.
Credit Berett Wilber/KUCB

Unalaska police are investigating a fatal heroin overdose that killed a 26-year-old fisherman last month.

Interim Police Chief John Lucking said Per Nyhammer, of Bothell, Washington, was found unresponsive in a room at the Grand Aleutian Hotel on Oct. 16.

"We lost a young man who was a fisherman and a long-term person in the community who'd come in and out," said Lucking. "Facts and circumstances seem to indicate that this might have been an overdose from a self-induced drug consumption."

While the investigation is still ongoing, Lucking said the heroin was not laced with the synthetic opioid fentanyl. He also said Nyhammer's death was unconnected to three other overdoses in Unalaska on Oct. 3, 11, and 12.

No one died in those other incidents, which Lucking said involved "different suspected controlled substances," including mushrooms. 

"Someone might want to put this all together and say, 'There's bad drugs on the streets of Unalaska.' But that's just simply not the case," he said. "It's just coincidental that we had a really bad couple of weeks. Each of the overdoses stand on their own merits and are not related in any way that we're aware of."

Lucking said Unalaska police haven't responded to another overdose since Nyhammer's death, which they're investigating with "federal partners."

"We're working real hard, trying to determine exactly what happened, what kind of drugs might have been involved, and where those drugs might have come from," he said. "There's been a lot of progress made on the investigative side. I suspect you'll hear — in the near future — an update to that. More information will be available."

While Unalaska reports fewer overdoses than many other Alaska communities, Lucking said there are drugs on the island and the public should always be cautious.

Taking illegal or unknown substances poses dangerous health risks, he said.