New efforts to stop America’s opioid abuse problem
When rescue workers arrived at the car in Guntersville, Alabama., they found the 18-year-old girl unresponsive.
The teens with her, 19-year-old John Garret Guffey and 18-year-old Lillie Marie Cooper, were driving her to the hospital when they ran out of gas, WAFF reported.
Now the two are facing homicide charges after police say they watched the girl overdose at a home and posted a photo of her body on social media before finally driving to the hospital, according to WHNT.
Police say the woman died from an overdose at a home in Grant, Alabama. Rather than calling for help, police say Guffey and Cooper snapped a photo of her body and posted it online, then waited an “extended amount of time” before deciding to drive her to the hospital themselves, AL.com reported.
The two ran out of gas near Guntersville, about 12 miles away, according to WAFF.
The sheriff’s office sent the case to the Marshall County District Attorney’s office, and a grand jury found there was enough evidence to prosecute the suspects, who are now being held on criminal negligent homicide charges on $10,000 bonds, according to jail records.
As the U.S. remains embroiled in a national emergency of opioid abuse, cases where bystanders delay helping those suffering from overdoses are becoming less isolated. One case in 2014 led to felony murder charges against three men in the death of a 20-year-old Georgia woman, who lay dead for hours before her parents found her and called help.
And in February of 2018, police say a Washington man allegedly raped a woman as she was dying from an overdose, took pictures of her, then hid her body in a plastic bag, according to court documents.
A 2017 Canadian study found that as many as 65 percent of respondents did not call for help after someone overdosed, especially if they treated that person with the drug naloxone. Doctors still recommend medical care after an overdose, in particular if an especially dangerous opioid like fentanyl was used.
“The high toxicity of fentanyl means that an overdose can return even after naloxone administration,” Michael Parkinson, a police officer, told the Canadian Broadcasting Company. “Hospital care is absolutely recommended.”
The emergency has led many states to pass “Good Samaritan” laws that shield callers from drug charges if they report an overdose.