Quinnipiac student death ruled accidental overdose amid rising drug usage in college students nationwide

Chronicle Staff

An accidental overdose of fentanyl caused the September 2021 death of a Quinnipiac University student, according to a newly obtained police report by the Chronicle which includes the Connecticut medical examiner’s findings.

First responders, acting on an emergency phone call by one of his housemates, found Cristian Caamano, 20, unresponsive in the basement of a non-university owned off-campus residence the afternoon of Sept. 15, 2021. 

Caamano, of Manhasset, New York, was a senior entrepreneurship major.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl is an incredibly deadly, odorless, tasteless narcotic that is often found in illegal and/or recreational drugs.

Caamano’s death occurred amid a rise in the usage of alcohol and drugs among college students, both at Quinnipiac and nationwide. 

Quinnipiac’s most recent biennial review of alcohol and other drug programs in spring 2020 said the number of student violations for underage possession of drugs or alcohol rose from 124 incidents in 2018-19 to 227 incidents in 2019-20. 

In addition, an epidemiological study from the University of Michigan found the annual prevalence among college students who used any illicit drug rose from 36% to 47% between 2009 and 2019. 

To mitigate improper drug and alcohol use, all incoming fall 2022 Quinnipiac students are required to complete alcohol and drug awareness modules, Stephen Sweet, director of student conduct and community standards, told the Chronicle. 

The modules, curated by an online education platform, consist of prevention programs on alcohol, cannabis and a third module on other drugs, including prescription drug misuse, opiates and stimulants, Sweet said. 

The Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards also held three Zoom trainings ahead of the fall 2022 semester for off-campus and commuter students to discuss the university’s alcohol and drug policies, as well as resources for “safe and successful living” off campus, Sweet said.

Additionally, in 2018, Quinnipiac Public Safety and Hamden Police officers began carrying narcan, a nasal spray used to minimize the effects of an overdose. As of 2022, Chief of Public Safety Tony Reyes said officers are equipped with two doses of narcan as part of a “go bag” they carry during each shift.

Caamano’s death was one of 1,524 deaths in Connecticut by accidental overdose in 2021 – the deadliest year in the decade since the CT Office of the Chief Medical Examiner began sorting data by drug type. Fentanyl accounted for 86% of those deaths, the highest of any individual drug. According to the OCME’s data, 74 of these deaths were in individuals ages 25 and under, and 20 of the total deaths in Connecticut occurred in Hamden.

The Centers for Disease Control also reported that nearly 108,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021, with 71,238 succumbing to fentanyl. 

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Quinnipiac Counseling Services at 203-582-8680 or by email at [email protected]. Other resources include the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357), and the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.


The police report can be viewed at this link.