Traverse City Record-Eagle

August 13, 2013

Heroin overdoses hit Traverse City

BY MATT TROUTMAN mtroutman@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A string of heroin-related incidents culminated with the rescue of an overdose victim in the Traverse City Police Department’s parking lot.

Traverse City Police Capt. Brian Heffner said two officers heard a knock on the police station’s door Sunday at 11:40 a.m. A woman outside told officers her friend, a 20-year-old Traverse City woman, was dead from a heroin overdose.

The officers ran outside and found the female victim inside a vehicle with a syringe still in her arm. She was not breathing and had no pulse, but the officers were able to revive her with CPR.

“They literally resuscitated her in the police parking lot,” Heffner said.

The overdose was the third heroin-related incident in Traverse City this weekend.

The first incident occurred Saturday at 12:30 p.m. when a 43-year-old Harbor Springs woman locked herself in the outside bathroom of the Marathon gas station on South Garfield Avenue, injected heroin and became unconscious. Responders from the Traverse City Fire Department and North Flight EMS found her with a syringe still in her arm and resuscitated her before she was transported to Munson Medical Center for treatment.

Heffner said heroin was also a factor in a domestic assault complaint on Sunday. A 29-year-old Traverse City man was arrested in the 1000 block of Barlow Street after an investigation showed he physically assaulted his girlfriend. Police said both used heroin. Police requested more charges in the case, but the suspect has not been arraigned.

The victim in the police parking lot overdose was transported to Munson Medical Center for treatment. Det. Evan Warsecke and Officer Adam Verscheave -- who revived the victim -- declined to comment on the rescue.

Heffner said police believe all the incidents are tied to a potent batch of the narcotic confiscated from a room at Country Inn and Suites on Friday. He said hotel staff found the drug while cleaning the room and contacted police.

“We believe it’s from the person responsible, but the investigation is ongoing,” he said. “It appears the person who was occupying the room ... didn’t come back. It wasn’t the person who rented it, but we have a good idea who it was.”

The Traverse Narcotics Team is assisting in the investigation. TNT Sgt. Randy Graham said no tests were made on the heroin’s potency, but it’s unusual to see so many overdoses in such a short period of time.

“It was either high in quality or it was tampered with some other product,” he said.

The Associated Press reports that a 55 percent increase in heroin-related overdose deaths nationally has prosecutors seeking stricter charges against dealers who provide fatal doses. This was the case in the 2011 heroin overdose death of Michael Everett, 21, in Benzie County. His girlfriend, Lisa Woodhall, 29, was initially charged with delivery of a controlled substance causing death for providing him the heroin.

In June, Woodhall pleaded guilty to attempted manslaughter. Benzie County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Tang-Anderson said Woodhall will testify against her alleged dealer, Tradvis Demarr Williams, 33, of Cheboygan, who now faces the delivery of a controlled substance causing death charge in 85th District Court.