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Report: Driver who killed Danish girl downtown had synthetic opioids in his system

Jeffrey William Wakefield (Charleston County Detention Center)

A toxicology report released today shows that Jeffrey Wakefield, 30, the Charleston man who killed an 11-year-old Danish girl with his car in downtown Charleston in July, had the synthetic opioid Fentanyl in his system at the time of the crash.

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Fentanyl is 80-100 times stronger than morphine.

Wakefield was suspected to be under the influence by police after he drove through the intersection of Calhoun and Rutledge and onto the sidewalk, striking Selma Akguel, who was visiting with her parents from Denmark on the night of July 9.

The girl died the next day.

Wakefield blew a 0.00 blood alcohol content.

According to a to the toxicology report administered by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), Wakefield had the following drugs in his system based on a blood sample:

  • Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.
  • Diphenhydramine, an anti-histamine that can be purchased over the counter.
  • Mitragynine, also known as Kratom, a legal herb that produces opioid-like effects on the body.

Kratom is a natural herb produced by a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia. Consumption of the tree leaves produces opioid-like effects, according to the DEA.

According to Dr. Robert Bennett, a forensic toxicologist, both Fentanyl and Mitragynine produce the same effects as heroin.

“These are abused substances to give the effect of heroin,” Bennett said.

He adds that Kratom is generally abused when a person is unable to get opioids.

The DEA is working to declare Kratom a controlled substance, calling the drug an "imminent hazard to public safety."

Wakefield is in jail at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center, charged with felony DUI and reckless homicide for his role in the wreck, according to Charleston Police spokesman Charles Francis.

In the police report, an officer overheard Wakefield say to his father in another phone call, "I got high and killed someone tonight."

Wakefield told police he had been out friend and only had non-alcoholic beer prior to the crash.

In the supplemental police report, the suspect told a nurse in front of police about a list of his prescription drugs, including Neurontin, Lexapro, Percocet and Gabapentin.

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