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15-year-old girl dies, another found overdosing at Hollywood high school

A parent found their stepdaughter and her friend, both 15, suffering apparent overdoses at Helen Bernstein High School on Tuesday evening. The friend died at the scene.
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A 15-year-old girl has died after two students were found suffering apparent overdoses at a Los Angeles high school Tuesday evening, police said. 

Los Angeles police said there may be additional cases after fire officials responded to two other overdose calls nearby, sparking concern over potential fentanyl-laced pills.

Police responded to Helen Bernstein High School in the 1300 block of North Wilton Place in Hollywood for an overdose investigation around 9 p.m., after the school was closed.

Bernstein High School
Helen Bernstein High School in Los Angeles.Google Maps

A parent whose stepdaughter was missing found her at the high school and said she appeared to be “a victim of an overdose,” police said in a news release

The teen told the parent that a friend was in the women’s restroom in the school. The parent found a school employee, entered the restroom and found the friend unresponsive from an apparent overdose, police said.

The parent administered aid to the victim, who was pronounced dead at the scene by the Los Angeles Fire Department. Her name has not been released pending family notification. 

The first victim was taken to a hospital, where she is stable, police said.

Both girls were 15, Lt. John Radtke of the West Bureau Homicide Unit said. 

The two teens apparently tried to buy Percocet at Lexington Park, about a half-mile south of the school, earlier in the day; after they ingested the pills they immediately felt ill and suffered an overdose, Radtke said. 

Police later learned that the fire department had two additional calls of overdoses in the area of Lexington Park. 

“It is believed that the overdose victims are students of Bernstein and local high schools,” police said. 

Authorities are warning about the dangers of pills laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin. It was behind most drug overdose deaths last year.

Most recent fentanyl-related overdoses are linked to illicitly manufactured fentanyl, distributed through illegal drug markets and often added to other drugs because of its potency, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The investigation continues, and anyone with information is asked to call West Bureau Homicide investigators. 

Bernstein High School was to be open for classes Wednesday, with grief counselors on-site to support students and staff members, district officials said.

The Los Angeles Unified School District said in a statement Wednesday morning that it was aware that “a student passed away" at the campus.

“We are working with the Los Angeles Police Department, the lead agency on this ongoing investigation, and at this point and due to confidentiality issues, we have no further information to share," the statement said.

“As we work together with LAPD to uncover the details of this tragic situation, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of both students," the statement added.

NBC News has asked the school for comment.