A couple using heroin behind the wheel of their vehicle forced officials to shut down a major highway in Ohio after crashing Saturday morning.
Two vehicles collided into a semi-truck at roughly 11:15 a.m. Saturday on Interstate 75 near Cincinnati, Ohio, in what police describe as a heroin-related crash. Authorities have not confirmed whether the operator of the vehicle suffered an overdose, but a picture taken by a witness at the scene before first responders arrived shows a man and woman passed out in their car after the accident, reports FOX 19.
In a video taken by a witness, a responding officer is seen performing chest compressions on an unconscious man, while a woman, also unconscious, leans on the back wheel of the car. Police said there were no further injuries from the collision, and arrested the driver on charges of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs.
Officials in the region say they are seeing an increase in heroin related crashes, which they attribute to the worsening opioid epidemic gripping the state. Police say that, in many circumstances, addicts will shoot up wherever they are when they buy their drugs, which many times is in a vehicle. (RELATED: Parents Nearly Crash Shooting Up Heroin While Driving With 3-Year-Old)
“It’s a continuous circle to keep the drug in your system and these people go to any length to get it,” Sergeant Michael Hudepohl with the Cincinnati Police Department, told FOX 19. “They get in their car, they use it, they OD, they crash and then we get involved.”
Ohio is being hit particularly hard by the national opioid epidemic, which claimed a record 33,000 lives in the U.S. in 2015. The opioid death rate in the state spiked 13 percent between 2014 and 2015, among the largest increases in the country. Heroin deaths increased by nearly 20 percent over the same period, claiming 1,444 lives.
A recent study by STAT estimates that the annual death toll from opioids will rise by roughly 35 percent between 2015 and 2027 in the U.S. Their analysis predicts up to 500,000 people could die from opioids over the next decade. The experts agree that, even in a best-case scenario, the crisis will not visibly start to subside until after 2020.
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