The Boulder County coroner's office has announced that former CU Boulder student Eric Bolling Jr., son of ex-Fox News personality Eric Bolling, died in Boulder last month from an accidental overdose involving a mix of cocaine and fentanyl, a powerful painkilling opioid that's wreaked havoc in Colorado during recent years. This conclusion confirms statements made earlier this week by the elder Bolling. His comments arose amid castigations of disgraced star and Denver TV alum Bill O'Reilly for suggesting that the death may have been caused by Bolling's departure from Fox News following reports of sexual impropriety.
As noted in our previous coverage, we've been reporting about overdose data throughout 2017. In March, we revealed that heroin-related fatalities in Denver had jumped a staggering 933 percent since 2002, according to numbers assembled by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Moreover, this increase has been nearly as steep on a statewide basis. During the past fifteen years, fatalities related to heroin in Colorado as a whole were up 756 percent, and they've kept escalating during the past three years even as heroin deaths in Denver have leveled off.
The following month, the CDPHE issued a disturbing new report showing that heroin deaths in Colorado doubled in four years despite an enormous increase in seizures and arrests related to the drug over the same interval. Among the factors for the rise cited in the document, titled "Heroin in Colorado," was the price, which tumbled by over 60 percent during a two-year period.
In addition, contributor Jackson Barnett zeroed in on the heroin problem at the University of Colorado by taking readers inside two CU Boulder students' struggle with addiction for a June feature article.
As for the September 8 death of Bolling Jr., it immediately followed news about his father's parting from Fox News. The network canceled The Specialists, a program created by the older Bolling, after an investigation found that he'd sent lewd text messages to female co-workers. He split mere months after O'Reilly, who was sent packing by the network in April.
Around 2:20 p.m. on September 9, Eric Bolling tweeted about his son's death. The message reads: "Adrienne and I are devastated by the loss of our beloved son Eric Chase last night. Details still unclear. Thoughts, prayers appreciated." In a second message shared just shy of an hour later, he wrote, "Authorities have informed us there is no sign of self harm at this point. Autopsy will be next week. Please respect our grieving period." And at 9 a.m. on September 10, he added, "We are overwhelmed by the love and support we have received. Adrienne and I thank you all and ask that you please keep us in your prayers."
The death of Bolling Jr. moved back into the news on October 23, when O'Reilly responded to a New York Times report that he paid an accuser $32 million shortly before Fox News inked him to a new $25 million per annum contract. "I urge you to think about what you put in your newspaper," he told the Times. "Eric Bolling's son is dead. He's dead because of allegations made — in my opinion and I know this to be true — against Mr. Bolling."
Afterward, Eric Bolling put O'Reilly on blast in a statement to the paper. He wrote: "I believe it is beyond inappropriate for anyone to bring in the tragic death of my son Eric Chase Bolling. Just as Bill O'Reilly had wanted to shield his children from the allegations against him, I hope he will honor my request and avoid any future mentions of my son. My parting from Fox News was in no way connected to the tragic news of my son's passing. The coroner has in fact indicated to us that they believe it was an accident. Unlike others who left Fox News amid public allegations and extensive investigations, I parted ways with Fox News in an amicable way and any reference to a firing is flatly wrong. I have been working on new collaborations which I will be announcing in the next few months."
The assertion about the death of Bolling Jr. being an accident hadn't been corroborated by the Boulder coroner's office at that point. But O'Reilly was chastened anyway. At 4:50 p.m. on the 23rd, he tweeted, "Apologies to Eric Bolling and prayers for him and his family. The message I tried to send was that allegations harm kids. Nothing more." In a follow-up message, he added, "Eric Bolling is a stand up guy who deserves the respect I have for him."
Now comes the official conclusion. The coroner's office has ruled that the younger Bolling's death was accidental — and also noted that he'd had a prior history of drug abuse.
Eric's dad wrote about the information on Twitter. At 4:44 p.m. on the 26th, he revealed, "Just received some tragic news from Coroner in Colorado. Eric Chase’s passing has been ruled an accidental overdose that included opioids." He added in a tweet accompanied by the photo at the top of this post: "Adrienne and I thank you for your continued prayers and support. We must fight against this national epidemic, too many innocent victims."
This news came on the same day that President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national health emergency but requested no new funds to fight it.