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Police: 1 of the victims in Hackensack mall overdose dies

Single mom who overdosed outside New Jersey mall dies
Single mom who overdosed outside New Jersey mall dies 01:52

HACKENSACK, N.J. -- A woman has died following an overdose last week outside a New Jersey mall.

She was one of five women found unconscious at the time.

Police are not saying much about the investigation, but CBS2 has learned more about the young woman who died.

Described as a devoted mom and friend who always showed up, 29-year-old Michelle Edoo passed away over the weekend after overdosing last Wednesday.

"And this is just such a tragedy that it happened so fast. Nobody got to say goodbye. Nobody knew that this would happen," said Brittany Onorato, a co-worker and friend of Edoo's. "This is the last thing that anyone would've thought would've happened."

When police responded to the parking garage at The Shops at Riverside mall in Hackensack on March 15, they found the women unconscious, likely overdosed on fentanyl.

Good Samaritans were doing CPR until police and EMS stepped in and deployed Narcan, reviving all five women. One refused hospital care, and four were taken to a nearby hospital. Three have since been released.

"It's very frightening. You're hearing more and more things now," shopper Claire Pawelczyk said.

Shoppers at the mall were stunned by the news, another tragedy at the hands of the lethal fentanyl. The drug is cheap and powerful -- 50 times stronger than heroin.

It's not clear if the victims even knew what they were taking. Police say fentanyl is being laced into other drugs.

"Nothing that's bought on the street is what they think it is, right? Every pill that they're buying on the street and not prescribed through a doctor is a death sentence, potentially," said Jason Love, chief of detectives for the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.

Watch Nick Caloway's report

1 of 5 women who overdosed outside New Jersey mall dies 02:30

Edoo worked at the Cheesecake Factory restaurant at the mall.

In a statement to CBS2, Cheesecake Factory said its thoughts and prayers are with the family of the staff member who died, adding grief counseling is available at the restaurant.

Friends and co-workers are heartbroken.

"She was one of the people that trained me when I first started working. She was a single mom. She did everything for her daughter. Her daughter meant everything to her. Her daughter was 9 years old," Onorato said.

On Wednesday night, friends and co-workers held a vigil at the parking garage to honor the young woman who was taken too soon.

"Cherish every single moment and make sure that the people that are close to you know that you love them and that you care for them," Onorato said.

Onorato says Edoo was working full time, and she was enrolled in nursing school and recently passed her exam.

"Michelle was one of the most amazing people I've ever met," she said. "She cared about people. She wanted to make the world a better place. Her energy alone made the world a better place."

This is one of many overdose tragedies in our area. The most recent records from the New Jersey medical examiner's office show 75% of overdose deaths in 2019 were fentanyl-related.

This incident is being investigated by multiple agencies. An update from the Bergen County prosecutor's office is expected Friday.

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