Kentucky Boy, 8, Died from Fentanyl, Not Reaction to Strawberries

in Food Allergy, Food Allergy News
Published: April 11, 2024

The death of an 8-year-old Kentucky boy has been ruled “fentanyl intoxication,” and not an allergic reaction, according to the local coroner’s office. Initially, an anaphylactic reaction to strawberries was suspected in the death of Trey Major Harris of Madisonville.

Trey Major Harris Photo: Mason Brothers Funeral Services

The Hopkins County Coroner’s Office reported the fentanyl finding by the Kentucky State Medical Examiner’s Office on April 10, 2024 in the death. The medical examiner also ruled the manner of death as “undetermined,” according to a spokesperson for the state medical examiner’s office.

Trey died on March 15, 2024 after eating strawberries from a school fundraiser the day before. At the time, the Hopkins County Health Department quoted a preliminary report from Madisonville’s chief medical examiner. He wrote that, “the incident involving strawberries looks like an isolated allergic reaction.”

The Madisonville Police Department has been investigating the boy’s death since they received a call from the family about 6:30 a.m. on March 15. The family had found Trey unresponsive that morning, after he had been sick the night before.

Trey’s mother and stepfather had told police that, after eating several strawberries from the fundraiser, Trey broke out in a rash and was given Benadryl. Police also told a local TV outlet that the family took Trey to the hospital that night, but left before seeing a doctor.

The child went to sleep at home. The next morning, the family met the police at the hospital. Trey died soon after, police say.

Many questions remained about the boy’s cause of death. The strawberries were suspected as the culprit, whether from contamination or an allergic reaction. They were sent to a state lab for toxicology testing.

But before the lab results – which were negative – were released, a twist emerged in the case.

Manslaughter, Fentanyl Charges

The Madisonville police investigation resulted in drug charges against Trey’s stepfather, Antonio Person. He was arrested on March 26 after officers issued a search warrant for the family’s home. They found a firearm, drugs and drug paraphernalia, according to a police department statement.  

Person, 33, was charged with trafficking fentanyl, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, and possession of a handgun by a convicted felon.

However, he has now also been charged with second-degree manslaughter. This is according to records at the Hopkins County Jail, where he was booked. Then on April 12, Trey’s mother Whitney Person was arrested. The county jail’s records show she is charged with conspiracy to commit second-degree murder and conspiracy to traffic fentanyl.

A Madisonville police spokesperson told Allergic Living that about 200 Fentanyl pills were found during the search at the Persons’ home. The investigation is ongoing.

Trey Major Harris was remembered during services on March 22 and 23. He leaves his mother, his father Dwaine Harris, and two brothers. He is remembered in his obituary as a “fun-loving child,” who loved sports, music and riding his four-wheeler.

“Trey left an indelible mark on all blessed to know him,” the obituary states.

Article updated: April 17. 2024.