Organ Donations Spike In The Wake Of The Opioid Epidemic

Oct 14, 2016

On the final day of June 2015, Colin LePage rode waves of hope and despair. It started when LePage found his 30-year-old son, Chris, at home after an apparent overdose. Paramedics rushed Chris by helicopter to one of Boston's flagship medical centers.

Doctors revived Chris' heart, but struggled to stabilize his temperature and blood pressure. At some point, a doctor or nurse mentioned to LePage that his son had agreed to be an organ donor.

"There was no urgency or, 'Hey, you need to do this.' I could see genuine concern and sadness." LePage says, his voice quavering.

The last surviving leader of Israel's founding generation, Shimon Peres was a three-time prime minister, the architect of the country's secretive nuclear program and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to make peace with the Palestinians.

Arturo Pardavila III, Flickr Creative Commons

This hour, we mourn the loss of 24-year-old Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boat accident over the weekend. 

Golfing legend Arnold Palmer has died at 87.

He died Sunday evening at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Shadyside, a tertiary care hospital in Pittsburgh. NPR confirmed his death with UPMC's media relations manager, Stephanie Stanley. The United States Golf Association announced Palmer's death via Twitter.

Palmer won 62 PGA Tour events, fifth on the all-time list. He won golf's biggest titles: the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open. He won seven majors in all.

Before Scott Kopytko joined the New York City Fire Department, he worked as a commodities broker in the South Tower at the World Trade Center. On Sept. 11, he rushed up the stairs of his old office building, trying to save lives with his fellow firefighters before the towers fell.

"He went to work, and he never came back," says his stepfather, Russell Mercer.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

This Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This hour, we hear from two people whose lives were forever changed by the tragedy. 

Drug Enforcement Agency

The rate of accidental drug overdose deaths in Connecticut grew again in the first six months of 2016, and the lab drug fentanyl is playing a big role in that. 

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Gene Wilder, the iconic actor who starred in "Blazing Saddles," "Young Frankenstein," and "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," died at his home in Stamford, Connecticut on Sunday. He was 83.

Wilder's nephew said he passed away from complications from Alzheimer's disease.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Editor's note: Gene Wilder died Sunday at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. In 2014, WNPR's Jeff Cohen reported on a screening of "Blazing Saddles" with Wilder in attendance, followed by a Q&A with the actor. This was first published on October 30, 2014.

It's been 40 years since the release of the Mel Brooks' movie Blazing Saddles. I recently went to an anniversary screening and in the audience was one of the movie's stars: Gene Wilder.

More than a day after a powerful earthquake struck central Italy, rescue teams are desperately searching for survivors in the rubble of once-charming mountain towns.

At least 241 people died in the disaster, according to civil protection officials, The Associated Press reports. Many of the devastated communities are difficult to reach, and the exact number of missing persons isn't known.


Jay Fishman, the chairman and former chief executive officer of the Travelers Companies, has died.

East Lyme PD / Facebook

Connecticut State Police are investigating after a human skull was discovered by a passerby on the property of a retirement community in East Lyme. 

A New York City man was charged Monday in Saturday's shooting deaths of an imam and his associate as they left a mosque in Queens. Police say the suspect, Oscar Morel, 35, of Brooklyn, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

Police Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner describes how the crime occurred:

Rarely has an actor not seen or heard made such a big impact.

Kenny Baker, the actor who played R2-D2 in six of the Star Wars films, died Saturday, his agent confirms to NPR.

Standing at 3 feet 8 inches tall, the British actor also appeared in The Elephant Man, Time Bandits and Flash Gordon, among other films.

"He was just a lovely guy," said agent Johnny Mans, "and I shall miss him terribly."

Wokandapix / Creative Commons

A driver chased by Hartford police got into a three-car accident in Bloomfield Sunday night and later died, Bloomfield police said Monday. 

At least two people were killed and more than a dozen injured in a shooting at a nightclub in southwestern Florida, in violence that police say began around 12:30 a.m. Monday. Three people have been detained for questioning, officials say.

The shooting took place at Club Blu Bar and Grill, restaurant and bar that's located in a strip mall on Evans Avenue. Officers who were called to the bar found several victims suffering from gunshot wounds.

Paul Sableman / Creative Commons

This hour, community leaders, activists, and law enforcement officers discuss the recent string of deadly shootings in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Dallas. We consider what's driving these horrific acts of violence. Is it racism? Our nation's gun culture? Something else entirely? And how do you talk to your kids about all of this?

Following the death of three law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday, President Obama said that "attacks on police are an attack on all of us."

Three officers were killed and three others were wounded in an encounter that began shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday. Louisiana law enforcement said they believe the gunman who shot at officers was killed at the scene. A law enforcement source confirmed to NPR the identity of the shooter as Gavin Eugene Long.

Three law enforcement officers were killed and three others were injured in Baton Rouge, La., when a suspect fired on officers outside a convenience store.

This comes less than two weeks after a gunman opened fire on police at a protest in Dallas, killing five officers.

Updated 4:00 a.m. ET Friday:

The French interior minister says 84 people have been killed. The four new reported deaths are thought to come from the list of critically injured.

Updated 11:00 p.m. ET Thursday:

A truck drove into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, killing dozens of people on Thursday evening. The French interior minister says 80 people have been killed and 18 are in critical condition.

When Dallas Police Chief David Brown announced that Micah Johnson was killed by a robot with a bomb, it raised a lot of questions that we've been trying to answer. 

Updated at 10:00 p.m. ET with names of the victims and gunman

Two bailiffs were killed and a deputy sheriff was wounded in a shooting Monday afternoon at a courthouse in southwestern Michigan, according to Berrien County Sheriff L. Paul Bailey.

The gunman was shot and killed. The deputy sheriff was in stable condition, as was one civilian who was also wounded.

Bailey said the shooting took place on the third floor of the courthouse in St. Joseph, about 40 miles from the border with Indiana.

The man who fatally shot five police officers in Dallas may have had plans for a wider attack, the city's police chief said Sunday. Dallas Police Chief David Brown provided new details about the tense two-hour standoff that police had with the gunman before he was killed.

"We're convinced that this suspect had other plans," Brown told CNN, adding that the shooter "thought that what he was doing was righteous and believed that he was going to target law enforcement and make us pay for what he sees as law enforcement's efforts to punish people of color."

A woman who began streaming video on Facebook immediately after her boyfriend was shot by police in suburban Minneapolis, Minn., says he had been stopped for a broken tail light — and that he was licensed to carry a gun. The killing of Philando Castile, 32, is the second fatal encounter between police and a black man to gain national attention this week.

Former University of Tennessee college basketball coach Pat Summitt has died, according to a statement from the Pat Summitt Foundation. She was 64.

Summitt died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones at a senior living facility in Knoxville, Tenn., her son, Tyler Summitt, said.