EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio — In their desire to expose how drug abuse affects children, city officials in Ohio have posted a photo online of a man and his female friend passed out in their vehicle after overdosing on heroin—with a four-year-old child sitting the back seat of the car.
The City of East Liverpool posted the photo on Thursday, stating that it needed to “be a voice for the children.”
“We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug,” officials explained. “We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess. This child can’t speak for himself but we are hopeful his story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody.”
According to reports, Kevin Thompson, an officer with the East Liverpool Police Department observed a vehicle weaving erratically down the road last Wednesday and then coming to an abrupt stop behind a school bus. A short distance later, the car came to a complete stop in the middle of the road and Thompson approached.
He found James Acord behind the wheel, who, with a bobbing head, sought to communicate that he was taking his passenger, Rhonda Pasek, to the hospital. Pasek was passed out in the front seat, and Acord likewise fell unconscious moments later.
Thompson shut off the car and called for paramedics, who administered the opiate reversal drug Narcan and transported the two to the hospital. Police told CNN on Monday that the two “almost definitely” would have died if Thompson had not intervened as they had overdosed on heroin.
But while tending to passed out pair, Thompson noticed that a young boy—Pasek’s grandson—was riding in the back seat of the car, strapped in his car seat. The officer took photos of the scene, which police administrators soon decided to publicly release on social media, along with the affidavit outlining the incident.
While some residents have expressed disapproval of the decision to post the shocking photographs with the child’s face unblurred, officials with the City of East Liverpool said that the need to be a voice for children outweighed the offense of others.
“We are well aware that some may be offended by these images and for that we are truly sorry, but it is time that the non-drug using public sees what we are now dealing with on a daily basis,” the city wrote. “The poison known as heroin has taken a strong grip on many communities not just ours, the difference is we are willing to fight this problem until it’s gone and if that means we offend a few people along the way we are prepared to deal with that.”
Acord was charged with operating a vehicle while impaired and endangering a child, and after pleading no contest, was sentenced to 360 days in jail. His driver’s license has also been suspended for three years.
Pasek was charged with endangering a child, disorderly conduct and public intoxication. As she plead not guilty, she is being held on a $150,000 bond.
The child is in the custody of Columbiana County Children’s Services.