2 arrested after Virginia elementary school students ingest gummy bears from fentanyl-laced bag

Two adults have been arrested in Virginia following an incident at an elementary school in which a group of fourth-grade students became sick after ingesting gummy bears from a bag that contained residue testing positive for fentanyl, officials say. 

Clifford Dugan and Nicole Sanders of Amherst are each facing multiple charges in relation to an incident on Tuesday at Central Elementary School which required five students to seek medical attention for symptoms including nausea, vomiting, headache, some muscle spasms, according to Amherst County Public Schools Superintendent William Wells. 

“Law enforcement tested the gummies, and they tested negative for a foreign substance. However, when they tested the residue in the bag, the field test indicated a positive response for fentanyl,” Wells said Wednesday. 

“At this point, we believe the bag containing the fentanyl got contaminated either at home or on route to school as the student was being transported by their caregiver to school,” he added. “There’s no indication there’s any other fentanyl at the school.” 

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Wells said one of the students brought the sandwich bag of gummies to school and shared the candies with six classmates during lunch. The Amherst County Sheriff’s Office initially said the gummies themselves tested positive for fentanyl, but it later clarified that it was residue in the bag that tested positive. 

Amherst County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Lt. Dallas Hill, during a press conference Wednesday, would not comment on the relationship between Dugan, Sanders and the children, saying the matter is an “ongoing investigation” and there are “a lot of people we still need to contact.” 

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Dugan has been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He is being held without bail. 

Sanders was also charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, as well as possession of a controlled substance. She is being held on a $2,500 bond, according to Hill. 

Wells said all the students have returned home after receiving medical care and the school was cleaned afterward as a safety precaution. 

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