'My heart is beating crazy': Video appears to show Florida deputy exposed to fentanyl during traffic stop

The Flagler County Sheriff's Office said one of its deputies was potentially exposed to fentanyl during a traffic stop earlier this week, was treated with Narcan, and taken to the hospital for treatment. The deputy has since been released from the hospital.

The sheriff's office said its deputies responded to a reckless driver in Bunnell who had allegedly driven away from the scene of a crash, was driving on and off the road, and almost caused additional crashes. That driver then pulled over on his own on State Road 11 where he was met by deputies.

Deputies said they found the driver in the front seat, as well as narcotics, an empty beer can, and a mini "shooter" of alcohol. 

During the investigation, the Flagler County Sheriff's deputy tested a powdery white substance that was found in the vehicle and immediately reported feeling lightheaded and asked another deputy to call paramedics, according to the body camera video. He said he felt extremely lightheaded, shaky, and could not feel his arms or legs. 

FCSO said the deputies knew the narcotics that he was testing could contain fentanyl – and gave the deputy a dose of Narcan, which helps counteract possible opioid overdoses. He was given a second dose after his symptoms did not improve, officials said. 

The deputy was taken to the hospital and was later released. It's not clear if the deputy tested positive for fentanyl exposure at the hospital, though officials said the substance he was tested did presumptively test positive for it.

FOX 35 reached out to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office for clarification Friday afternoon.

"What happened yesterday is a perfect example of the dangers law enforcement face each and every day from poison on the streets," said Sheriff Rick Staly in a statement.

Up for debate: fentanyl exposure or panic attack? 

There is some debate among experts and medical professionals about whether these are true fentanyl overdoses or rather a panic attack about the possibility of fentanyl exposure. 

In 2022, the Tavares Police Department released bodycam video of one of its officers who claimed to have come into contact with fentanyl and had an intense reaction. The video has gotten significant pushback from members of the medical community saying what’s happening is simply not that. 

"There’s just no practical way in an outdoor environment that that could happen," Dr. Lewis Nelson, Medical Toxicologist in Addiction Medicine and Department Chair of Emergency Medicine at Rutgers Medical School, told FOX 35 in December 2022 in response to the Tavares Police Department video.

Dr. Nelson of Rutgers Medical school co-published a prominent study saying passive fentanyl exposure is nearly impossible. This means simply coming in contact with the drug is not enough to overdose. He says a small dose wiped from a sleeve or inhaled wouldn’t be enough to cause one either. 

"You see on TV when they put out a line. You have to have a good amount to get in your body," said Nelson. "You’re not going to get a little powder on your hand and put it in your nose. You’re not going to get sick from that."

As for the driver in Flagler County's case, they said 61-year-old George Clemons of Crescent City, Florida, was arrested under suspicion of DUI, possession of fentanyl, cocaine, marijuana and other drugs. Bunnell Police have charged him with leaving the scene of a crash with damage.

He was reportedly being held at the jail on $25,500 bond.