Former Carroll baseball star died from mixture that included fentanyl-like drug

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Former Southlake Carroll baseball star Nicco Cole, who helped the Dragons to a Class 6A state championship in 2018, died this summer from a mixed drug overdose that included a somewhat new fentanyl-like drug, according to a ruling by officials with the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Cole, 20, of Colleyville, died June 25 at his home from a mixture of para-fluorofentanyl and benzodiazepines, according to officials. His death was ruled an accident.

Officials with the medical examiner’s office released the ruling Wednesday after completion of toxicology and other tests which took more than five months.

Para-fluorofentanyl is a fentanyl analogue and it’s considered to be very strong and powerful, according to the DEA

Authorities believe pFF is intentionally created in clandestine production facilities run by Mexican drug-trafficking organizations.

Colleyville Assistant Chief of Police Hillary Wreay said in a Thursday email that an investigation into the case continued.

The family of Nicco Cole could not be reached Thursday for comment.

Cole’s death added to an increasing number of people who have died from drug overdoses in North Texas and in this country.

Authorities have estimated that more than 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in one year, a record number that health officials say is tied to the COVID-19 pandemic and a more dangerous drug supply, according to the Associated Press.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 100,300 Americans died of drug overdoses from May 2020 to April 2021., but those are not official numbers. Officials said it could take months to get a final total.

In North Texas, authorities have been battling the drug overdose problem for years in a majority of communities.

In 2019, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died in a Southlake hotel room from a fentanyl overdose. Former Angels communications director Eric Kay was indicted on federal drug charges in the case. His trial is set for Jan. 24 in Fort Worth.

Earlier this year, Fort Worth police issued a warning about an increase in fentanyl overdose cases in the area, leading to an “alarming number” of deaths. The number of deaths related to fentanyl in Fort Worth and Tarrant County were not available on Thursday.

Teen opioid drug overdoses soared this spring at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.

A 12-year-old girl died from fentanyl in May at her Richland Hills home, making her one of the youngest victims of the drug in Tarrant County this year, according to a ruling released in September by the medical examiner’s office.

The girl was identified as Ellianna Martinez, who died on May 31 from fentanyl toxicity, officials at the medical examiner’s said on its website. The manner of her death was listed as undetermined.

In Arizona last year, DEA officials warned communities in Maricopa County of several suspected overdoses that had been linked to pFF, according to KNXV-TV in Arizona.

Eleven recent suspected overdose deaths tested positive for the fentanyl analogue in that Arizona county,

In the Colleyville case, Cole was a North Texas baseball star.

Cole helped the Dragons to back-to-back appearances at the UIL state tournament in Round Rock during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. As a senior in 2018, Cole was sensational for the program, posting a 13-0 record and 0.73 ERA. He struck out 134 batters in 105 1/3 innings.

Cole threw seven innings and allowed three hits and one unearned run while recording one walk and 10 strikeouts in the Class 6A state semifinals when Carroll beat The Woodlands 3-1.

The Dragons beat San Antonio Reagan, 7-2, to win the state title.

Cole would enjoy several individual accolades soon after, including the 6A state all-tournament team, Dallas Morning News and Star-Telegram all-area teams, 6A all-state, district pitcher of the year and Texas Sports Writers Association 6A player of the year.

He graduated from Carroll in 2018 and spent the following year at Howard College, a junior college 45 minutes east of Midland. He spent the 2020 season with Cal State Fullerton, but the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He had returned to Howard College this past year.

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