Bedford County deputy saves co-workers' lives

Test results for white powdered substance found it to be fentanyl

By Magdala Louissaint - Lynchburg Bureau Reporter

BEDFORD, Va. - Deputy Rachel Cocke is an evidence technician for the Bedford County Sheriff's Office.

"It comes into a secure location at the Sheriff's Office. I retrieve it, and I enter it in my system. Putting it in a secure location, and to keep the chain of custody,” Cocke said. 

Dec. 28 was an ordinary day for Cocke until a woman called the sheriff's office curious about a white powdery substance she received in the mail. The deputy on the case, brought the package back to the Sheriff's Office.

 "He had planned on testing it in the civil office. His sergeant, another deputy was coming in to assist,” Cocke said.

That's when Cocke said her training kicked in. Not knowing what the substance was., she told him to not test it in the office. She said it was safer to send it to the Roanoke lab instead. 

The test results found it was the potent painkiller fentanyl. The Drug Enforcement Administration says improperly handling the drug can prove lethal. To make matters worse, this was sample was the strongest they had ever seen.

"There could have been so many different possibilities. If the bag had busted, and it had gotten in the air. There was probably four or five people in that office. It could've been devastating,” Cocke said.

Cocke is being called a hero, and since her heroic act, they now have the anti-overdose drug, Narcan, on hand. And when testing anything there must be at least two people in the same room in case one person is accidentally exposed. 

"It's just one of those things you don't think about. You're out there and you get drugs a lot: cocaine, meth and all these things, and you handle it. And you don't think about it because you do it so much. I think it kind of jarred everybody into thinking, "Well, we need to really take this seriously.' And I'm glad for that,” Cocke said.

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