One father's post on Nextdoor on Tuesday night set off a cascade of media coverage Wednesday about a highly sensational — and scary — incident involving a baby accidentally ingesting fentanyl, possibly at a city playground.
The SFPD is now investigating the case of 10-month-old Senna Matkovic, who allegedly was exposed to fentanyl at Moscone Park in the Marina while in the care of a nanny — and his twin brother was just fine and had no exposure. The nanny became immediately concerned when Senna appeared to have trouble breathing, and then was turning blue, after he'd been crawling in the grass. Father Ivan Matkovic confirmed some of the details to SFist on Wednesday, and if only for arriving paramedics deciding to use Narcan on the baby on a hunch, Senna survived the ordeal and was sent home from the hospital on Tuesday night.
Local TV stations and the Chronicle have been all over this story for obvious reasons, and it's probably already made it to Fox News for all we know — San Francisco being their favorite liberal hellscape to crow about.
Ivan Matkovic said in an interview with the Chronicle, "I’m frankly ignorant to the fentanyl problem. I’m just a dad that something bad happened to. I just wanted to let people know that along with coyotes and RSV and COVID, this is another thing to add to your checklist of things that you’re looking out for, because we weren’t."
Matkovic added, "Something like this may never happen again. It could be just a freak thing, but it’s a crisis in general and these kinds of incidents are going to happen unless something changes."
City officials commenting on the incident are all being cautious to note that the actual point of contact between the boy and the drug has not been confirmed, and police have not found any evidence of fentanyl or drug paraphernalia at the playground in question. The likeliest source was some powder, somewhere, but the source of Senna's exposure is still not known.
The Chronicle confirmed via an after-visit report from the hospital that fentanyl was found in the boy's system — though they were also cautious to say that the hospital would only confirm that they issue such reports, but not what was on this one. The paper says it requesting access to the full medical record to make a confirmation.
Supervisor Catherine Stefani, in whose district this incident occurred, said it was evidence that "our drug crisis is out of control and it’s affecting all corners of our city," and "It is absolutely unacceptable that children can’t safely play in our parks because traces of fentanyl or drug paraphernalia are present."
Stefani backtracked a bit in a subsequent statement to the Chronicle, saying, "We don’t know for sure what happened in this specific case, but I think what it highlights is the fact that there are drugs everywhere in this city. It’s not just in the Tenderloin."
Mayor London Breed said Thursday, "We want to be very careful about automatically implying that this happened specifically at the playground until the investigation is done, but it’s really a very tragic incident regardless."
Breed added, "It’s important for us to do everything we can to keep our parks clean and safe, especially from things like fentanyl which we all know are extremely deadly."
Supervisor Hillary Ronen said in a tweet, "This incident should be a tipping point. The first time a baby died it should have been a tipping point. I am truly horrified by this." Ronen added, though, that blame shouldn't go toward a specific drug user or individual addict. "A nationwide epidemic of this magnitude is not caused by the failing of individuals."
Other incidents of toddlers being exposed to and accidentally overdosing on fentanyl have occurred in recent years in the Bay Area, however they are typically tied to a parent who is a user, and an obvious source of exposure.
In one incident in Santa Rosa in May, a 15-month-old toddler died from an accidental overdose, and both of her parents were arrested after drugs and paraphernalia were found throughout the home, and near the unresponsive child.
This is the first incident where a local child potentially touched a surface or patch of ground with drug residue on it, in a public space, and accidentally overdosed.
Photo courtesy of Ivan Matkovic