Teen actor Tyler Sanders died of an accidental fentanyl overdose

A teen boy stands amid racks of women's clothing on a TV show
Tyler Sanders on the set of “The Rookie” in 2018. The Glendale resident died June 16 at the age of 18.
(Eric McCandless / Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)

The death of Tyler Sanders, a teen actor known for roles in “The Rookie” and “Fear the Walking Dead,” was ruled an accidental fentanyl overdose, officials said Thursday.

Sanders died this past June in his Glendale apartment at the age of 18.

On June 16, a friend found Sanders unresponsive inside his locked apartment and called 911, a Los Angeles County Medical-Examiner Coroner’s report said. Sanders had been texting the friend the night before, telling the friend that he was using fentanyl. The report said Sanders had a history of drug use, and drug paraphernalia was found at the apartment.

The findings of the cause of Sanders’ death come amid a rising wave of deaths related to fentanyl use in Los Angeles County and across California.


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A recent report found that 13 times as many people lost their lives in L.A. County to fentanyl in 2021 as in 2016. The drug was involved in more than half of all overdose deaths, and was especially prevalent among teenagers: Among 12- to 17-year-olds who died of an overdose, the vast majority — 92% — tested positive for fentanyl.

Sanders left behind a budding career as a screen actor. He started acting at 10 and first starred in a Christian sitcom, “JLW Academy,” about students attending a Christian private school. In 2017, Sanders got a big break, appearing in an episode of the FX show “Fear the Walking Dead.” He played the younger version of Jake Otto (Sam Underwood), a main character on the show.

Sanders continued making appearances in TV shows including ABC’s “The Rookie,” where he played the son of a rogue cop. Most recently, Sanders appeared in a Season 3 episode of the Fox drama “9-1-1: Lone Star.”

In 2021, Sanders was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for an outstanding principal performance in a children’s program for his role as Leo in Amazon Prime series “Just Add Magic: Mystery City,” a spin-off of “Just Add Magic.

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Months before his death, Sanders acted in a supporting role in the action thriller film “The Price We Pay,” where he performs alongside Emile Hirsch, known for “Into the Wild,” “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” and “The Girl Next Door.”

Sanders will appear posthumously in the film when it premieres in January.

“Tyler was a talented actor with a bright future,” Sanders’ agent Pedro Tapia told Deadline after his death in June. “He comes from a wonderful family, and we ask that you respect their privacy at this time.”


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