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Good Samaritan heroin rally in York

Written by Flint McColgan/York Daily Record-Sunday News | Nov 2, 2015 1:16 PM
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Ariella Cushman, 3, of Red Lion -- who standing with family friend Marlin Ritter, 68 -- lost an uncle to a heroin overdose in 2011. Her father and aunt are both in recovery.(Photo: Flint L. McColgan, York Daily Record)

(York) -- Vickie Glatfelter has learned a major lesson and wants to share the news: "Tomorrow is never promised with addiction."

The 53-year-old Dover Township mother lost her son, Bob Glatfelter, in April of last year. He was 10 days out of recovery and in a recovery house when he decided to get high just one more time in a hotel room he rented with a woman he met in rehab, she said Sunday.

She held a sign with Bob's face on it and a plea for addicts to call 911 if a fellow addict has overdosed. The photo, taken by the woman who waited six hours before reporting the overdose, almost looks like Bob is sleeping.

"My son died," she said, her voice wavering slightly, "but he left me with a voice and a purpose."

Those who have lost loved ones or know people who have gathered at Continental Square on Sunday to get the word out about Pennsylvania's Good Samaritan Law. The law, which took effect toward the end of last year, is simple.

"Don't run, Call 911," signs held by those at the rally declare, putting the law that provides immunity to addicts who call 911 to report a fellow addict experiencing an overdose, into its simplest and most direct terms. "If you witness a drug overdose ... call for help. The Good Samaritan Law will protect you."

Brandis Lynne, 37, who is a native Yorker but now splits her time between York and San Francisco, said she founded the iWILLrecover.com resource website in honor of her brother, William Wentz, who died three years ago come March. She helped plan this event to spread the word about the law so deaths like her brother's won't have to happen.

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Nicole Hager, 28, of Red Lion, holds her neice, Ariella Cushman, 3, during the Rally. Hager is a recovering heroin addict who lost a husband and a later fiancee to the drug. Ray Cushman, 63, Hager's father-in-law, stands with them. His son was the husband Hager lost and the uncle that Ariella lost. (Photo: Flint L. McColgan, York Daily Record)

Most of the people at the rally had been affected by heroin in some way or another.

Stephen Dellinger, Sr., took out his phone to show the face of a smiling and lively 21-year-old woman. He said he had been taking her to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to help her deal with her heroin addiction "but two months ago I was helping to shovel dirt into her grave."

Ariella Cushman's first three years of life has been overly touched by heroin. The Red Lion little girl lost an uncle to the drug in 2011 and her own father is now in heroin addiction recovery.

"It's been a pretty consistent part of my life," said her aunt, Nicole Hager, 28, who was married to that uncle who died. Hager then had another fiancee who died from an overdose. She is in recovery, herself.

Now all it takes is getting the word out, but to many that process has seemed quite slow.

"We have a lot of work to do," said David Sunday, the senior deputy prosecutor in the York County District Attorney's office and a founding member of the county Heroin Task Force. "We're going to start taking the message to recovery homes and we're slowly but surely trying to figure out how to get the message across to the people who need it the most."

At one point during the rally, a woman in a pickup truck stopped at a light asked if the ralliers were distributing clean, fresh needles.

Glatfelter said that Narcan, also known as noloxone which is used to revive a person experiencing an overdose, and the Good Samaritan law "go hand in hand." But the two things could be used as false signals to addicts that their likelihood of dying from the drug is lessened, that they can be saved.

"We have a choice to make," Sunday said, "and the choice is either to save lives or allow the status quo to continue. And overwhelmingly, the people in the community would rather save lives than let the status quo continue."


This article comes to us through a partnership between York Daily Record and WITF.

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