Rash of ODs strikes area

2 local men die from drug overdose; unclear if fatal events connected

In less than a week, two Brown County women called 911 after finding that their sons had died from drug overdoses.

Three overdoses occurred in the Cordry-Sweetwater and Helmsburg areas between July 15 and 20, and another on July 26 in Van Buren Township. Only two of the four victims survived.

These are the first fatal overdoses of the year in Brown County.

Before these, three heroin overdoses and one prescription overdose had been reported this year; those people survived.

Sheriff Scott Southerland said last week that there was no reason to believe and no way to know if these two fatal overdoses were tied to a “bad batch” of drugs, which could have been laced with another substance.

A rash of overdoses in Bloomington in the past few weeks has been connected to Spice, a synthetic marijuana, according to the Herald-Times.

The sheriff’s department identified three of recent overdoses as being from heroin in a statistics list, but official toxicology report results were not yet available. Those tests will show the type and amount of drugs in the two deceased victims. The drug used in the fourth overdose was not identified.

The first overdose was reported around 6:45 p.m. July 15. A mother called police after finding her 38-year-old son face-down on the floor in his home on Lion Drive. She had been visiting to drop off food, a police report by Brown County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Moore said.

Less than six hours earlier he had been cutting wood at his mother’s home, Coroner Earl Piper said.

Police reported evidence of recent drug use near the man’s body, on a card table where he had been sitting. Piper said he had a syringe still in his hand.

On July 19, police responded to a home in Helmsburg for a man having difficulty breathing, going in and out of consciousness and “acting strange.” Deputy Joshua Stargell found him between a set of bunk beds and a dresser in a bedroom.

Stargell administered two doses of naloxone with no effect. The man was taken to Columbus Regional Hospital; he survived.

Less than 12 hours later, police and EMS responded to a home in the 3600 block of State Road 45 for a third overdose.

Another woman called 911 after she found her 24-year-old son on the floor of his bedroom with no pulse. Emergency responders used chest compressions and a defibrillator but could not revive him, police said.

Piper estimated he had been dead for a couple of hours before he was found.

Drug paraphernalia was found in the bedroom, including drugs that will be tested, he said.

The fourth overdose was reported July 26 in the 7000 block of Becks Grove Road. County deputies, firefighter first responders and an ambulance responded and found a person in a small cabin, the police report says. EMS personnel administered one dose of naloxone to the victim and took the person to a hospital.

This was the second time this person had been given naloxone after an overdose, the police report said.

Toxicology reports from both fatal overdoses are expected back in three to four weeks, Piper said.

The two deaths tie last year’s total for fatal overdoses, according to the Brown County Sheriff’s Department. Both deaths last year were from heroin.

A total of eight heroin overdoses were recorded in the county last year, including the two fatal ones. In addition, the sheriff’s department reported two prescription overdoses and one methamphetamine overdose last year.

The Associated Press reported earlier this month that Indiana saw a more than 300 percent increase in the number of heroin overdose deaths between 2010 and 2015, from 54 to 239. During that same period, opioid painkiller-related deaths increased nearly 20 percent, the AP said.

Neighboring counties are having similar problems. Columbus had 12 overdose deaths through April, tying its total for all of 2016, The Republic reported.

Reported overdoses in Brown County




1 heroin overdose resulting in death

1 methamphetamine overdose

1 prescription drug overdose




6 heroin overdoses, two resulting in death

2 prescription drug overdoses, one resulting in death

1 methamphetamine overdose




8 heroin overdoses, two resulting in death

2 prescription drug overdoses

1 methamphetamine overdose

2017 (through July 26)



6 heroin overdoses, two resulting in death

1 prescription drug overdose

1 unknown drug overdose

SOURCE: Brown County Sheriff’s Department

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Suzannah Couch grew up in Brown County, reading the Brown County Democrat. A 2013 Franklin College graduate, she covers business, cops/courts, education and arts/entertainment.