Northern Arizona offensive lineman Malik Noshi died of an opioid overdose, medical examiners announced on Tuesday.
Noshi, 22, was found not breathing by a friend in his Flagstaff home on July 7.
“The friend just said they were hanging out the night before and came home, went to sleep, and at about noon he found him not responding,” Flagstaff police spokesman Charles Hernandez told the Arizona Daily Sun after his death.
Synthetic opioid fentanyl blamed in death
An autopsy revealed his cause of death as acute fentanyl intoxication, the Associated Press reports. Examiners also determined that Noshi had recently used cocaine and alcohol.
Noshi’s death was ruled accidental.
"Opioids are commonly referred to as a national crisis," Northern Arizona athletic director Mike Marlow said in a statement. "No community or family is immune from the dangers they represent. The statistics are alarming but we will not allow Malik's memory to become just a statistic. Malik was a leader, hard worker, close teammate, friend and loved one to many.”
Hernandez announced that police were investigating where Noshi obtained the drugs and whether he knew the pills he took contained fentanyl.
Same drug that killed Tyler Skaggs
Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that the National Institute on Drug Abuse describes as similar as to morphine but 50 to 100 times stronger.
Fentanyl was determined to have played a role in the recent overdose death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
Officials determined that carfentanil, a derivative of fentanyl with similar potency, led to the death of Rice defensive end Blain Padgett in March.
“Carfentanil is surfacing in more and more communities.” former acting DEA administrator Chuck Rosenberg said in a 2016 warning about synthetic opioids. “We see it on the streets, often disguised as heroin. It is crazy dangerous. Synthetics such as fentanyl and carfentanil can kill you.”
Noshi started nine games for the Lumberjacks last season. He was expected to start at guard this season, which would have been his senior year.
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