Three found dead at Balboa Island home in possible drug overdose

A row of houses with police tape across a road and two police officers outside
Three people were found dead in the building behind the utility pole.
(Susan Hoffman)

Police are investigating whether illegal drugs played a role in the deaths of three people who were found inside a home on Balboa Island in Newport Beach early Monday.

A man at a home in the 100 block of Diamond Avenue, just steps from Newport Harbor, called police at 8:23 a.m. to report that he and three other people inside needed medical assistance, Lt. Keith Krallman said.

Officers found two women and one man dead. Authorities declined to comment on the nature of their injuries. Police have not identified them publicly, but Krallman said they were all either friends or family members.


The man who called police was taken to Hoag Hospital Newport Beach and is expected to survive, Krallman said.

Although authorities went into the residence briefly, detectives have not been able to comb through the scene, partly because of concerns about possible fentanyl exposure, Krallman said.

Orange County hazmat crews were assisting authorities at the scene Monday afternoon.

“Right now, we are concerned with our officers’ safety going into the residence, so we’re going to make sure it’s safe and there’s no hazardous materials that we’ll be exposed to,” Krallman said. “We don’t have confirmed there is fentanyl in there, but out of an abundance of caution we’re going to process it as though there might be a potential exposure.”

Krallman said authorities are working to secure a search warrant and are looking for anyone who had contact with people inside the home in the last day.

Police SUVs and vans swarmed the tony island between Diamond and Sapphire avenues Monday afternoon.

Balboa Island has a reputation as a quiet family-friendly vacation destination.

Residents — many of whom have lived on the island for decades — sip their morning coffee on spacious patios and stop to chat with neighbors while walking their dogs along the bay front, said Michelle Mayo, a resident and local real estate agent.

Word about the deaths traveled across the island quickly Monday.

Neighbors carrying umbrellas in the rain passed by the alley where police had gathered to investigate. Some stopped to ask reporters if they had any details. Others expressed concern about whether the deaths were homicides. Police have not detailed the nature of their probe but have said there is no danger to the community.

“I walk down this street every day, if not twice a day, and this is so rare,” Mayo said. “You just don’t see or hear about this stuff on Balboa Island.”

On Sept. 4, three people died in Venice, reportedly after overdosing on fentanyl-laced cocaine.

The dead included stand-up comedian and writer Fuquan Johnson.

Two days later, actor Michael K. Williams, known for his work in “Lovecraft Country” and “The Wire,” died in New York City after overdosing on fentanyl and other drugs.