5 drug overdoses in one day in Upper Darby

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5 overdoses in one day: Matt O'Donnell reports during Action News at 6:30 a.m. on June 9, 2017. (WPVI)

An increasing number of communities in our area are coping with the deadly effects of opioid addiction, which, officials say, has reached epidemic proportions.

Upper Darby provides a chilling example of the kind of thing happening across the region. A recent 24-hour period there saw no less than five heroin overdoses.

One couple from the township was still alive Thursday because their four- and one-year-old children screamed for help, police said.

Neighbor Kendra Outen said, "I heard the little boy saying, 'Help!' He was saying, 'Help!' and I thought I was going crazy."

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5 drug overdoses in one day in Upper Darby. Dann Cuellar reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on June 8, 2017.

Outen was minding her own two kids Wednesday night when she thought she heard a boy screaming for help. And then she looked out to the 2nd floor window of the house across the alley in back of her home, and saw a 4-year-old and 1-year-old.

"And they're in the window, like screaming for help, 'Can somebody please help me, help me!' And I said, 'what's wrong?' he said, 'my mommy and my daddy are locked in the bathroom, I can't get them out the bathroom, please help me,'" Outen said.

She called police, who would arrive to find the parents, 32-year-old Sean Dolhancryk and 31-year-old Sandra Dicianno, unconscious in an upstairs bathroom.

And then, in what has become routine procedure nowadays, officers used Narcan to revive Dolhancryk. Medics were also able to revive Dicianno.

The four-year-old was relieved, said Outen: "He said, 'Thank you, God! Thank you, Jesus!' Like, he was relieved."

Other neighbors looked after the kids while police dealt with the matter.

"We made sure - Nancy, myself and Jen - we made sure that they ate," said neighbor Monica Banks. "We made sure the diapers were changed. The little 4 year old is so cute. And he's so special, because he's so smart at 4 years old."

Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said, "If it wasn't for the children, who knows if the mother and father would be alive today?"

Tragically, there were three other heroin overdoses across Upper Darby.

A man overdosed while locked in a bathroom at this laundromat on Garrett Road, another while pumping gas at an Exxon on South State Road and yet another while riding in an Uber.

"It's out of control. It's really, really out of control," said Chitwood.

On Thursday, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reported that there was a 37% increase in drug-related overdose deaths last year in Pennsylvania, bringing the total to about 13 people a day.

For his part, Chitwood would like to see 5-year mandatory prison sentences for people selling heroin and other opioid drugs.

"We've got to send a message," he said. "We've got gun crimes. If you commit a crime with a gun, it's 5 years. Heroin is killing many more people than guns are."

"Addiction is destroying families and it's destroying the lives of the people that are addicted," he continued. "And it's a tragic issue when a 4 year old saves mommy and daddy's life."

Chitwood would also like to see mandatory comprehensive rehabilitation treatment for those charged with heroin use, like the parents of these children.

Those children have been placed in the custody of relatives by Children and Youth Services.

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