Thursday, April 17, 2008

Coroner Rules "That’s Drug-induced Homicide"

We had a case recently, with case conference this week, in which two individuals died of heroin overdose. It is very unusual that you get two individuals dead at a scene at the same time (prompting a broad investigation into possible causes).

The law in Illinois allows anyone who gives or sells drugs (illicit or licit) to another that results in that person’s death can be charged with drug-induced homicide (always with review of the circumstances around the incident for criminality). However this case, in the minds of myself and my deputies, rises above this simplistic definition and is without a doubt homicide.

These 2 men were found dead in a house after a 911 call occurred. The caller reported 2 men down and strongly suggested that rescue personnel bring Narcan. Narcan is a drug given to reverse the effects of opiate (e.g. heroin) overdose. The 2 men were found down, dead and beyond the ability of Narcan to rescue them.

The men were found to have bags of frozen vegetables in their pants, which seemed strange to at least some of the personnel at the scene and to my deputy. It immediately made sense to me. There is a fallacious belief among drug users’ (and others) lore that ice can be used to revive a user crashing unto death.

How much time was wasted by the third person (there was at least one other person there at the time of death and they called 911) before the 911 call was made with the very proper request for Rescue and Narcan? Narcan administered soon enough could very likely have been life saving. It is obvious that the other person or persons there with these guys knew they were in trouble and likely headed for death (the icing). In our opinion the deaths of these men were homicides for this reason, in addition to the simple fact that they were delivered high grade heroin that killed them.

1 comment:

RevMedic said...

I'd give them at least half an hour between the 'street script' application of ice and calling 9-1-1.
That's been my experience. The last heroin OD I went on was notable for the mostly melted ice cubes surrounding the patient. The caller insisted he had done nothing other than call 9-1-1, and that he had done so immediately.
The other street remedy that I'm familiar with (but have never seen personally) is IV injected milk.