NEWTON, NJ – A residence on Halstead Street was the scene of four heroin overdoses in one day. The Newton Police administered Narcan to three men and one woman in less than 24 hours at the same address. Their subsequent investigation resulted in two other Newton residents facing multiple drug charges including distribution.
The Town of Newton has seen seven heroin overdoses so far this year, only 117 days into 2017.
“Our experience is generally that we administer Narcan about once a month,” Newton Police Chief Michael Richards said, “but there have been months that it is not used and some months where it is used more than once, as in the case that occurred recently.”
The Newton Police department responded to a Halsted Street residence on Tuesday, April 18 around 2:07 p.m. for the report of an unconscious male.
Upon arrival police found a 32-year-old male unconscious, unresponsive and in respiratory distress. He was displaying physical signs that led police to believe it was a heroin overdose.
Police administered Naloxone, known as Narcan and they performed rescue breathing. The man was transported to Newton Medical Center by the Newton First Aid Squad for further treatment. Paramedics from St. Clare’s also assisted at the scene.
While the officers were attending to the 32-year old male, they were alerted to another male in the house, this one a 31-year-old, who was reported to be suffering from a seizure.
The second man was found unconscious and unresponsive in a hallway, displaying similar physical signs as the first male, which were consistent with a heroin overdose.
Rescue breathing was performed, while the officers administered a dose of Narcan. As he regained consciousness, the man was given oxygen and placed in the recovery position. He was then transported to Newton Medical Center by the Newton First Aid Squad. Paramedics from St. Clare’s also assisted at the scene.
After distributing two doses of Narcan, the Newton Police department left the Halsted residence, however, that would not be the last time that they would be called to that residence that day.
At 6:49 p.m., about four hours later, the Newton Police responded to the same Halsted Street residence for another report of an unconscious male.
When they arrived, officers observed a 28-year-old man to be unconscious, unresponsive and in respiratory distress in a bathtub. The male displayed physical signs that were yet again consistent with a heroin overdose.
Officers once again performed rescue breathing and administered Narcan to the man. He was transported to the Newton Medical Center by the Newton First Aid Squad.
Two hours later, at 8:34 p.m., the Newton Police were once again called back to the same Halsted Street residence, this time for a report of an unresponsive woman.
When they arrived, officers found a 47-year-old female to be unconscious, unresponsive, and in respiratory distress. The woman also displayed physical signs consistent with a heroin overdose.
After administering a dose of Narcan to the female, officers performed rescue breathing and the female was transported to the Newton Medical Center by the Newton First Aid Squad.
According to police, the overdoses and previous reports of drug activity at the residence helped detectives from the Newton Police Department and the Sussex County Guns, Gangs & Narcotics Task Force develop information to conduct an investigation into the distribution of heroin.
Detectives gathered intelligence and interviewed witnesses, which led to a search of the location. The investigative work resulted in the arrest of Julie Taylor and Robert Agresta, on Thursday April 20.
Taylor, 42, from Newton was charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance, Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance and Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance in a School Zone.
Agresta, an unemployed 53-year-old from Newton was charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance, Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance, and Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance in a School Zone.
Judge James Devine, JMC authorized the issuance of the arrest warrants for Taylor and Agresta, according to police. Both were processed and both were lodged in the Sussex County Jail pending a hearing concerning their release and/or release conditions to be ordered by the Court.
“More people are certainly saved when overdose effects are reversed with Narcan,” said Chief Richards, “but some people still die from overdose when there is nobody to call on their behalf.”
The Overdose Prevention Act is an important law, according to Chief Richards, because it helps encourage people to call without fear of being arrested so that the police can get there in time to save a life.
The investigation into Taylor and Agresta was conducted by officers from the Newton Police Department’s Patrol Division, Detective Bureau, and Detectives from the Sussex County Guns, Gangs, and Narcotics Task Force.
All overdose victims were provided referral information about the Sussex County C.L.E.A.R. Program - http://clearprogram.org/, which is recognized as an initiative that is leading the way in New Jersey toward reducing addiction and its many ill-effects.