22-year-old Summit County man overdoses on drug up to 40 times stronger than fentanyl

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 10:48 PM EDT
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SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - A Coventry Township family is still mourning the loss of their son and brother who was just 22 years old when he died from a drug overdose.

His family reached out to 19 News when they learned fentanyl wasn’t the culprit, instead it was a drug they had never even heard of.

The Summit County Medical Examiner ruled that Mateo Omeragic overdosed on protonitazene, which is sometimes called a Frankenstein opioid on the street.

Studies show the drug can be up to 40 times stronger than fentanyl.

“Kids have to understand that any kind of drug that they take they’re risking their life you know if they’re gonna take any pill of any form they have to ask themself am I willing to die for this?” said Maria Nincevic-Omeragic, Mateo’s mother.

Mateo Omeragic was a successful YouTuber with over 100,000 subscribers. He had a passion for cars and video games.

“He was a sweet sweet kid,” his mom said. “He was loved by so many people. He really made an impact on everybody. I miss his presence you know because he was here all the time, so the house feels empty without him.”

On January 23, he took what he thought was a Xanax.

A few hours later his mother found her only son unresponsive in his room.

“Immediately started screaming for my daughter and then she came in we were trying to like move him over, but he was already blue,” the mother recalled.

Mateo bought was he thought was a Xanax on the street but ended up being a different drug entirely.

“It’s devastating because it’s almost as if you don’t think that you can ever find that person accountable for this,” Maria said.

Mateo’s sister, 21-year-old Mia Omeragic, knew her brother was using drugs. His addiction put a strain on their relationship.

“It kind of made me take a little bit of the blame off him because you know I’m thinking no one is holding a gun to your head saying take this,” she said. “He took this because he wanted to, but now you find out he could’ve been fine, right like if it was just Xanax, he would’ve been fine. He wouldn’t have died from it that’s kind of gut-wrenching knowing that it could’ve been different.”

It was the second major loss for the family. Their dad passed away in 2020 due to complications from COVID-19. He also suffered from substance abuse.

“I don’t know if there’s anything we could’ve done you know would it have been better if my mom kicked Mateo out and he overdosed alone somewhere and wasn’t found for a week was it better that he overdosed in the safety of his own home after saying good night mom thanks for the soup,” Mia said.

Now the family just wants to raise awareness about this drug and its dangers before it’s too late.

“Intervene if you suspect, just be real persistent with them in trying to get them help because I will forever blame myself for not being more persistent,” Maria said.

The Summit County Medical Examiner said Mateo’s death is the first he’s seen here from this drug, but there are reports of dozens of others across the country dying from it.

Narcan can help in the case of an overdose, but you could need several doses to save someone.