County on track to surpass 2016 OD totals

WARREN –The Trumbull County coroner has confirmed 60 people in Trumbull County have died so far this year from an accidental drug overdose, and he suspects 50 more deaths he investigated are from the same cause, according to statistics released Thursday.

Coroner Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk ruled 60 people died between Jan. 1 and July 22 from acute fentanyl, heroin, carfentanil, cocaine and mixtures of numerous drugs. Fifty other deaths since July are suspected drug overdoses, but their cases are awaiting the results of toxicology screenings and procedural actions.

The 110 cases, if all confirmed, surpass the 107 accidental drug overdoses the coroner recorded in 2016 in Trumbull County, which was the highest year on record.

Many more have overdosed and lived since the beginning of the year, according to data from the Trumbull County Combined Health District and the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board.

The recovery board is “grieved about so many preventable deaths,” said April Caraway, executive director. “The disease of addiction is chronic, pervasive, biological and all consuming. People who are living with the disease of addiction aren’t ‘weak,’ as some people believe. Physiological changes occur when someone gets addicted to drugs. The path to recovery includes medical, emotional and spiritual help. We should never give up on them.”

Since the beginning of the year, 1,160 people have been treated for accidental overdoses in the county, according to the data.

In September alone, 215 overdoses were recorded, the most since the health district began keeping track with EpiCenter, the state’s medical alert system. The health district and recovery board issued numerous warnings during the month to alert users and first responders of the increased medical emergencies.

In the first five days of October, 27 overdosed.

A man driving a car with West Virginia license plates was revived from a possible drug overdose Thursday afternoon when others driving past him noticed something was off. At the end of the eastbound exit ramp from state Route 82 onto East Market Street, several concerned drivers out of the many passing through the busy intersection noticed something wasn’t right with the driver of a vehicle stopped at the end of the ramp and not moving.

“At first I didn’t think anyone was in there,” said Chuarali Rivera, who was a passenger in the van her mother, Yasmin Rivera, was driving just after 3 p.m. on East Market Street.

But she noticed a young man wasn’t moving and asked her mother to stop and check on him, she said.

Marlene Martinez asked the same of her son, Mark Martinez of Warren, when they noticed the driver of the sedan didn’t look normal.

“I knew he was either dead, having a heart attack or overdosing,” Mark Martinez said.

The man was pale and shaking and didn’t wake as the concerned group tried to rouse him. His doors were locked and first responders were on the way. First responders broke a backseat window and revived him while he sat in the driver seat.

The car was in gear and his foot was on the pedal, Marlene Martinez said.

“He could have killed himself or someone else. He could have killed me,” she said.

“Addiction effects everyone in the family and our entire community is struggling with this epidemic. The individuals who have overdosed and those who have died have grieving children, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters. Schools, first responders, counseling agencies, hospitals, the coroner’s office, businesses and so many others have been impacted by this growing epidemic,” Caraway said.

The Martinezes and Riveras all said they were surprised more people didn’t stop to check on the driver.

“People were just driving by. But when it’s someone’s life, you have to do all you can to help them,” Chuarali Rivera said.

“A human being is a human being, no matter what, and deserves the chance to keep living,” Yasmin Rivera said.

The man is likely to face charges of driving under the influence, possession of drug abuse instruments and paraphernalia and be cited for not wearing a seat belt, according to Warren police.