Columbus 12-year-old’s death at birthday party ruled fentanyl OD

Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin and is now responsible for the majority of drug overdose deaths in Franklin County, Ohio

Kanye Champelle, Columbus
Credit: WCMH


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — An autopsy has revealed that 12-year-old Kanye Champelle died in July of an accidental fentanyl overdose. The report from the Franklin County Coroner’s Office comes as a shock and surprise to family members and Columbus police.

Champelle’s father, Robert Bren, Jr., said his son attended a sleepover birthday party for one of his cousins at an east side apartment complex.

When medics arrived at the scene, they found Champelle unconscious and unresponsive and removed a wad of chewing gum from his throat.

The boy died two days later.

But an autopsy released this week reveals that while choking was a factor, it wasn’t the gum that killed him. Champelle died as a result of accidental acute intoxication by fentanyl.

Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz said there was nothing to indicate the fentanyl had been injected. The autopsy is not specific on how the fentanyl got into the 12-year-old’s system.

Columbus Police spokesman Sgt. Dean Worthington said the boy’s death is now under investigation.

“Our Narcotics Bureau is looking into it and our Homicide Bureau is looking into it,” Worthington said. “What we want to know is how the child got in touch with the fentanyl. Where did it come from?”

Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin and is now responsible for the majority of drug overdose deaths in Franklin County.

Champelle’s mother, Latice Champelle, said she did not have custody of the boy because of her own past history of drug use. She’s been clean now for more than three years.

“I’m not on drugs anymore and this is the reason why,” she said. “Because I didn’t want to die. I don’t want to die. This is not fair.”

Latice Champelle said she was never satisfied with the explanation that her son had choked to death on a piece of gum. Still, the autopsy results were a complete shock.

“I don’t understand how he got ahold of that stuff,” she said. “How did he get that? Where was it at? Why would you all have it around my son?”

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