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Bartender, customer die after allegedly overdosing at Lawrence sports bar

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Posted at 5:02 PM, Apr 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-25 17:39:31-04

LAWRENCE — The Lawrence Police Department is investigating after multiple overdose deaths were reported in a short period of time.

Chief Gary Woodruff says two those overdoses happened at a park in Lawrence.

In one case, Woodruff says investigators found fentanyl at the scene.

Hours later, a customer and bartender collapsed at the "Sports Page Lounge" on Post Road. Both were rushed to the hospital where they later died.

Sports Page Lounge Owner, Dennis Lugar, says the situation is devastating.

"For both of them to not be here today is really tough and it will probably stick with us forever. I just want to hopefully figure out what happened and hold somebody accountable," Lugar said.

The owner identifies the pair as Shawn Abel and Jeffery Belttari.

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Pictured is Shawn Abel (left) and Jeffery Belttari (right).

A banner saying "Prayers for Page" now sits in front of the bar.

Chief Woodruff says often times, street drugs are laced with fentanyl or other drugs, making an overdose more likely.

"Be aware. Be aware that just the tiniest amount of fentanyl or other substances you don't know what you are buying out there and if you need help, go get help.

Although all four incidents are being investigated as likely overdoses, it will be up to the Marion County Coroner to determine the exact cause and manner of death. Toxicology, which is what the coroner's office uses to determine drug types and causes of death in many of these cases, can take several weeks to return.

There are resources available for those struggling with substance abuse

Overdose lifeline, the Damien Center, Indiana Addiction Issues Coalition, and the Marion County Public Health Department offer fentanyl test strips.