Suburban Ohio couple Brian and Courtney Halye were found dead by their children on March 16. They died from an apparent drug overdose, and as the oldest child called 911, he told the operator his father was "pale” with black lines over his face.
The children reportedly discovered their parents' bodies in their bedroom after they failed to get them up for school.
Officer John Davis of the Centerville police said narcotics paraphernalia was found on the scene, reports WLWT. A coroner has listed the preliminary cause of death as being consistent with a heroin or fentanyl overdose, NBC News reported.
Brian, 36, who was a pilot for Spirit Airlines, and Courtney, 34, each had two children from previous relationships.
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Courtney’s 13-year-old son told the 911 operator, “I just woke up and my two parents are on the floor. My sister said they’re not waking up. They’re not breathing ... They were very cold.” He also told the operator his father was “pale” with black lines over his face.
Davis blamed the deaths on the opioid epidemic in the U.S.
“This knows no demographic,” he told NBC News. “It doesn’t matter how much you make or where you live or how educated you are. It crosses every line, and that’s probably what’s most frustrating. It is an unfortunate reality in the world we live in right now. I can’t put it into words. It’s hard to imagine as a parent, as a police officer, as just a person. It’s just hard to comprehend.”
Formerly a problem associated with impoverished inner city areas, the demographics of opioid addiction have changed dramatically. In the last decade, almost 90 percent of first-time heroin users are white, most of whom are either middle class or wealthy, reports The New York Times.
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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services summarizes the problem:
Our nation is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record, and the majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involved an opioid. Since 1999, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids -- including prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin-- nearly quadrupled, and over 165,000 people have died from prescription opioid overdoses. Prescription pain medication deaths remain far too high, and in 2014, the most recent year on record, there was a sharp increase in heroin-involved deaths and an increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
The HHS also reports that on an average day in the U.S., more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions are written, and some 3,900 people start taking prescription opioids for nonmedical reasons. Also on a typical day, 580 people initiate heroin use, and 78 people die from an opioid-related overdose.
A final statistic by the same government agency serves to put the epidemic into full perspective. "In 2014, more than 240 million prescriptions were written for prescription opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills."