Two men in their 20s passed away last week in Ocean View, from an apparent heroin overdose.
“They were living in Ocean View, but both of them are originally from Maryland,” said Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin, noting that the names of the victims will not be released prior to notification of kin.
On Thursday, July 12, at 11:23 p.m., officers from the Ocean View Police Department were called to a home on Central Avenue in Ocean View. When they arrived, the officers discovered the bodies of the two deceased men.
Earlier in the day, police said, concerned coworkers had visited their rental home in Ocean View, after the two men had failed to show up for work at a local restaurant. One co-worker peered through a window and saw the men lying on the floor and subsequently alerted police, they said.
The victim’s bodies were turned over to the Delaware Division of Forensic Science for an autopsy. The identities of the victims and the official manner and cause of their deaths will be released once autopsies are completed.
“We’re waiting on the autopsy to come back. At the same time, we do know they purchased drugs late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning. We’re working to determine where and from whom they made that purchase,” said McLaughlin. “The overall goal is to identify the person who sold them the drugs… That person who sold the drugs can be held responsible.”
Ocean View police received assistance during the investigation from officers from the Delaware State Police, and the Bethany Beach and South Bethany police departments.
McLaughlin said there have been a number of other overdoses recently in Sussex County and in the Salisbury, Md., area. He said it’s possible they’re all linked to the same drug dealer.
“We are working with investigators in the State of Maryland as well, because there are some commonalities,” he said.
McLaughlin said the heroin problem in Delaware continues to grow, noting on Tuesday, July 18, around 9 a.m. that there had already been two Sussex County emergency center (SussCom) calls that morning for overdoses in the county.
“This is just another indication that this problem is not going away,” he said. “It’s getting worse; it’s not getting better. They’re telling me now we’re losing one a day in the state of Delaware.”
The two deaths this week weren’t the only apparent drug-related incidents the OVPD has dealt with recently. On Tuesday, June 26, at 4 p.m., an officer from the Ocean View Police Department was dispatched to the Millville Town Center to check on the welfare of a man who was passed out on a bench outside of the Giant grocery store.
According to the OVPD, upon arrival, the officer found the victim to be unconscious and unresponsive, with his face was turning blue, indicating oxygen deprivation.
McLaughlin said his officer, suspecting a heroin overdose, searched the victim and discovered suspected heroin and suspected drug paraphernalia. The officer then administered two doses of naloxone and initiated CPR.
A second Ocean View officer arrived on the scene and administered two additional doses of naloxone, police said, and shortly thereafter, the victim resumed breathing on his own and regained consciousness.
“It’s just another example of us being able to spare a life,” said McLaughlin, whose department was the first law-enforcement agency in the state of Delaware to carry the life-saving overdose-reversing drug. “This person was literally moments away from death…
“Without a doubt [our officer] saved that person’s life. It gives them another chance to, hopefully, get clean… Hopefully, they’ll take advantage of it.”
The Millville Volunteer Fire Company transported that victim to Beebe Healthcare for additional care.
McLaughlin said that anyone in the area suffering from drug addiction or who wants to help a friend or loved one suffering can reach out to his department.
“They can call and ask for me specifically. Although we’re nowhere where we need to be, we are making a little bit of progress, and we have more opportunities for help,” he said. “If someone comes to us, we will do everything we can to get them in a facility or get them to the right people who can provide them help.”
The Ocean View Police Department is located at 201 Central Avenue in Ocean View. McLaughlin can be reached by calling (302) 539-1111. To learn more about statewide programs related to addiction, visit www.helpisherede.com.
By Maria Counts