News & Politics

School Board Member Found Passed Out in SUV after Overdosing on Fentanyl

Demonstrating that drug addiction knows no socio-economic boundaries, Akron School Board member John Robert Otterman was discovered passed out in his car by police after he overdosed on fentanyl.

Elected to the school board in 2015, John Robert Otterman has also served as a city council member in Akron. Having struggled with drug addiction in the past, Otterman helped push through a policy last year that requires middle and high schools in Akron to stock Narcan, a medication that reverses opioid overdoses. While the school board’s actions were not prompted by any overdoses within the district’s schools, the board wanted to be pro-active in the face of the rising opioid crisis in Ohio. According to a report published by Akron’s WTVR: “Ohio has the fifth-highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the United States, according to a 2016 report from the Ohio Department of Health. Summit County, which includes the city of Akron, recorded at least 225 fatal overdoses in 2016, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.” In addition, “Police said at least four children in Akron have overdosed on an opioid drug so far in 2017, including two incidents involving year-old children that happened less than a week apart in June, CNN affiliate WJW reported.”

The fortuitous irony is that Otterman’s life was most likely saved by the overdose reversal medication.

The Akron Beacon Journal reveals that:

Akron school board member John Otterman was given four doses of an opioid overdose reversal drug Thursday after police found him unconscious in a Ford Escape on East Cuyahoga Falls Avenue.

Police were investigating a call about a man down in a parking lot when they say they found him at about 7:50 p.m. in the driver’s seat of the car

They found a white substance that tested positive for fentanyl — an opioid which is used as a pain medication — in the car, along with marijuana.

The 57-year-old former city councilman was treated at the scene by paramedics who administered four doses of naloxone before transporting him to Summa Akron City Hospital for further treatment, according to the police report.

Otterman resigned from the board on Monday. His past history of drug abuse has been well-documented. In 1989, Otterman was charged with trafficking marijuana, but was acquitted. In 2001, while serving on the city council, he was charged, but eventually acquitted, of lying to doctors in order to secure painkillers. This past summer, according to the Akron Beacon Journal, “He was publicly reprimanded and censored by the [school] board in August after police discovered him in his car in June with ‘slurred speech and glazed over eyes,’ along with an unmarked prescription bottle containing Xanax pills.” WKYC uncovered that “earlier this year (2018), police were called to his home during a hallucinogenic episode where his wife and daughter found him shooting imaginary mice with a BB gun.”

Obviously, John Robert Otterman suffers from addiction and shouldn’t be on the school board, so it’s appropriate that he stepped down. Hopefully, Otterman will realize that he needs to focus on getting healthy and seek treatment. Furthermore, we should hope that the sad case of John Robert Otterman will help bring the growing problem of opioid addiction to the public consciousness and that a healthy conversation will grow out Otterman’s disease.