Malloury Fitzsimmons knew something was off earlier this week when she noticed her fiancé Timothy Oster sleeping without a blanket. As she drew closer, an unusual sight became grave.
Oster had blood all over his chest and something white on his nose. Fitzsimmons initially thought it was a tissue her fiancé used to plug a nosebleed, but as she approached, she realized it was foam.
Fitzsimmons began screaming and shaking Oster to wake him up, but he was unresponsive. She grabbed her phone and called 911.
“I didn’t want to assume, but my instinct told me it was an overdose,” Fitzsimmons said. “He must’ve used it after I went to sleep. He told me he was going to hang out with one friend but actually hung out with another friend who does drugs.”
The police arrived at the couple’s house in Remsen, New York, and pronounced 21-year-old Timothy Oster dead almost immediately upon their arrival, Fitzsimmons said.
It was too late to use Narcan to revive him. Toxicology reports have not been released yet, but police officers told Fitzsimmons that her fiancé had died quite a while before she found him.
While Oster’s fatal overdose is tragic, it’s hardly an isolated incident in New York State.
A statewide problem
Data from the New York State Department of Health showed that among people under 35 years old, there were 85 heroin-related deaths in 2009. By 2013, that number increased 268 percent, and 313 deaths were reported. Of those 313 deaths, 210 were people aged 25-34 and 103 were aged 15-24.
Opioid-related emergency department visits in New York State increased 73 percent from 2010 to 2014.
Heroin has been affecting younger people and small towns in the central region of New York more and more every day.
Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara announced last week that the problem has led to the expansion of the area’s law enforcement drug division, the Oneida County Drug Task Force.
The drug task force, currently made up of local officers throughout the county, will become a seven-county regional force called the Central New York Regional Drug Strike Force.
There’s no timeline regarding the formation of the strike force yet, but it could potentially take years to “make all the gears fit together, given the number of agencies they hope to involve,” according to McNamara.
Another pilot program created by Onondaga County in Upstate New York to collect unused pills, needles, heroin and other controlled substances is expanding to eight local police departments.
Sharps Needles and Drug Disposal (SNADD) has already collected 1,360 pounds of drugs in the past year, District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said during a press conference.
Picking up the pieces
Fitzsimmons, who’s a waitress at her parents’ diner, frantically called her mother to explain what happened – that’s when her 3-year-old son, Aiden, woke up.
“My son came to me saying, ‘Tim can’t die, he’s a good guy, he’s not supposed to die,’” Fitzsimmons said. “Yesterday, he told me we would find another ambulance to bring Tim back.”
Oster wasn’t the toddler’s real father but spent… (continue reading)