Saving a young man dying from a heroin overdose was a harrowing, life-changing event for a family of six, but just another day at work for police and EMS personnel.
The Colucci family of Hopewell Junction was out for a day of fun and a movie at the Poughkeepsie Galleria Mall when a stop of two minutes for the kids to use the bathroom turned the day of enjoyment into one of fear.
When leaving the mall, the mother, Jenn Colucci, noticed a black BMW parked down a couple spots had the door open and the bell was dinging over and over.
At first, she thought nothing of it, but after loading the kids and pulling out, she happened to slow down and look over at the vehicle.
"I could see some feet and legs hanging out the door and I just knew something was wrong," she said.
She stopped their vehicle and had her husband, Vinnie, get out to see if someone needed help. That's when he found a young man lying across the seats groaning and barely breathing.
"We knew right away he was dying and it was probably from drugs," Jenn Colucci said. "He was barely breathing and turning blue."
They called 911 and stopped another couple and asked for help, pulling the young man out of the vehicle and onto the parking lot.
A police dispatcher talked them through, looking for vital signs as they waited for police and EMS to arrive.
"We were standing there watching this person die. It was surreal and scary and life-changing," she said. "If the kids hadn't stopped to use the bathroom, we wouldn't have been there in time to call for help."
Within minutes, Town of Poughkeepsie Police Officer Jay Burger arrived and jumped right into action, administrating a dose of Narcan, she said.
"It's amazing that police officers are so used to overdoses because of the opioid epidemic that it was just like another ordinary call," Jenn Colucci said.
Town of Poughkeepsie Police Capt. Kevin Faber said all of their officers carry and are trained to use Narcan due to the opioid epidemic.
"Unfortunately, it's becoming a more common call for officers," he said.
The one dose of Narcan didn't work and the young man was basically dead, she said.
That's when EMS arrived and administered the drug through an IV and within a few seconds the young man was up and ready to drive home, she added.
"It was crazy. He said he had used two bags of heroin and he really wanted to drive home minutes after he had died."
EMS insisted that the young man be evaluated at the hospital and the Coluccis got back in their car and drove home.
Jenn Colucci said their 12-year-old daughter asked if the man had used drugs and if he was dead on the way home. The parents decided to tell her the truth and used it as a learning experience for their children.
"I feel like Narcan is a good and bad thing because drug users know they have a chance of being saved if they overdose," she said.
But, the whole family, still shaken a day later, are happy that it exists.
"I think mall security and teachers and everyone should have it," she said. "But then I hope they don't have to use it."
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