STAFFORD, Va. — A sheriff’s deputy in Virginia suffered an accidental overdose this week after two people were arrested on suspicion of drug use, authorities say.

Deputies from the Stafford Sheriff’s Office were dispatched Wednesday morning to a school parking lot, where they found two people unconscious in a van, one with a syringe sticking out of an arm.

Authorities say Deputy A.C. Wolford searched the van and recovered drug evidence.

When Wolford went to the hospital to question one of the suspects, he fell ill, becoming unsteady on his feet and slurring his words. Nurses feared the deputy himself was experiencing an overdose.

Authorities say they believe he was exposed to the powerful opioid fentanyl.

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“When he happened to be at the hospital, he had the evidence of that incident in his vehicle,” Stafford Master Detective Todd Nosal said Friday. “He became exposed to it accidentally, we believe through inhalation, and that cause him to show signs of overdose.”

Doctors administered Naloxone, which reverses the effects of an opiate overdose.

Officials stressed that close proximity to someone who has ingested or inhaled fentanyl presents little danger. But direct exposure to the power or liquid form of the drug could prove to be fatal.

“It’s a problem if some surface is contaminated by the drug,” Nosal said. “Contact with skin especially, since fentanyl can be absorbed that way as well.”

Wolford is recovering at home and is expected to return to work in the next few days.

Samantha Stoudt, 29, of Woodbridge and David Michael Chambers, 40, of Occoquan were both charged with possession of a controlled substance. They were being held Friday at the Rappahannock Regional Jail without bond.

Contributing: The Associated Press