"When a young person dies of a drug overdose, there are what-ifs. For parents, the what-ifs are infinite. And for law enforcement, emergency personnel, the legal system-especially those who use heroin or prescription opiates the what-ifs raise troubling questions."
According to OC Register, in the middle of the night on February 3, 2010, Jayme Lahti drove down the freeway with three new acquaintances. One was Joey Kennedy, passed out and snoring in the back seat from methadone and Xanax. By the time the sun rose the next morning, Joey would be dead.
If California had a 9-1-1 Good Samaritan law allowing Jayme and the other passengers to drop Joey off at a hospital without fear of arrest? What if naloxone, which reverses opioid overdoses, was more easily available? Would Joey still be alive?
In 2007, Joey promised to clean up-again. He moved home, attending AA meetings daily with his father, James. After three months, Joey got high and his parents threw him out-again. James said, "Every night I looked up at the stars and prayed to God, he'd be safe. Our worst nightmare was getting a phone call that Joey was dead."
In the summer of 2009, Joey promised, once more, to get clean. He told his father, "I couldn't stay sober if you died." James replied, "I'd stay sober if you died. Don't make me bury you.'"
The summer before his death, Joey begged to move home, promising to get clean. James said, "I prayed on it. I slept on it. I said, 'You get a reprieve." He let Joey come home. He also bought a home drug-test kit, waiting two weeks to give it to his son. James said, "I was confident it was going to be OK, but it was positive for opiates. I got the biggest suitcase I could find, packed up everything Joey had and told him 'You gotta go.'"
According to police reports, around noon on February 3, Joey boarded a bus with the two guys he met in jail, popping Xanax and methadone. They spotted a young woman, and offered to take her to lunch. One of Joey's jailhouse buddies disappeared into a nearby building, where he received 85 Oxycontin pills on credit. He quickly sold 22 pills, and returned to the group with $440. He gave Joey and the woman one Oxy.
Jayme eventually showed up to party, and she picked the four up before they went to a liquor store for a bottle of Vodka. They checked into a Motel 6, under Jayme's name. They passed around the liquor and the pills. Joey and one of his new friends from jail, pulled out a piece of foil, heating crushed pills to inhale the fumes with part of a pen. They passed out.
At 8 that night, Joey snored away. They all took turns hitting, slapping, and kicking Joey to wake him. The put him in the bathtub, in cold water. Forty-five minutes later, they returned and Joey was still passed out in the tub. They drug him onto the bed and decided what to do.
The girls wanted to call the police. The boys talked them out of it. They agreed they couldn't take Joey to a hospital, not in his condition, and certainly not in theirs. Had they been in New York, Illinois, or Florida, they could have dropped him off without consequence. Finally, one of the boys said he would take Joey to his house, but something else happened…
The story will continue, once more. Tomorrow, we will share the final part of Joey's story.
Image courtesy of David Whiting/OC Register.