Ohio parents arrested after 8-year-old son overdosed on heroin, police say

By Amy Wang at Washington Post

Charles Dowdy and Danielle Simko are set to appear in court after police said their 7-year-old son overdosed on heroin inside their home. Photo /Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department
Charles Dowdy and Danielle Simko are set to appear in court after police said their 7-year-old son overdosed on heroin inside their home. Photo /Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department

A man and a woman in Ohio have been charged with child endangerment after their 8-year-old son reportedly overdosed on heroin last month, according to US police.

On January 11, police responded to a report of a child not breathing at a home in Berea, a suburb southwest of Cleveland. There, they found the child unresponsive in the living room and his father doing chest compressions on him, according to a police report obtained by WKYC News.

After an officer found a pulse on the child, the boy was transported to a hospital, the report stated. Officers suspected the parents, Charles Dowdy and Danielle Simko, of narcotics use; drugs and syringes were found on the property, according to the report.

Paramedics were called to the house in the Berea suburb of Cleveland. Photo / Google
Paramedics were called to the house in the Berea suburb of Cleveland. Photo / Google

Dowdy told police that he and Simko had been in bed with their son when he noticed that the child's lips were turning blue, the report said.

In audio from the emergency call from the incident, a man's voice - presumably Dowdy's - is heard alternately pleading frantically with the dispatcher and shouting at a nearby woman.

"Please hurry," the man tells the dispatcher, before yelling "Move! Move!" to someone else in the home.

The dispatcher begins to coach the couple on how to perform CPR on the unresponsive boy.

"I think he was sleeping and I think what happened was he rolled over and I don't think he could breathe," the man explains to the dispatcher. "I think he was just, like, in the pillow and he suffocated."

In the call, the man tells the dispatcher that the unresponsive boy is his 7-year-old son. However, a police report that lists the child's birth date indicates the boy is 8.

Once at the hospital, staff discovered prescription pills and a small bag of heroin tucked inside the boy's sock, according to cleveland.com. Dowdy admitted to police that he had used drugs inside the house earlier that day, and both he and Simko were arrested at the hospital, the news site reported.

Dowdy and Simko were charged with child endangerment, records show, and each were held on US$150,000 bond. They were arraigned in court on Friday and will appear at a pretrial conference on February 22, according to court records.

Cuyahoga County has been among the hardest hit in the nation's opioid epidemic. Earlier this month, the Cuyahoga County medical examiner announced that there had been at least 46 confirmed fatal overdoses in January from heroin, fentanyl or a combination of the two. The deaths were evenly divided between residents of Cleveland and those who lived in the suburbs.

In 2016, at least 517 people in the county died from overdosing on heroin, fentanyl or combination of the two, the medical examiner said.

Earlier this month, Berea police shared a video about "the reality of drug use" from the nonprofit group Drug-Free World on the department's Facebook page.

"There is no city in this country that is immune to drug problems, and Berea is no exception," the department wrote. "The scenes in this video will be all too familiar to the families who have a loved one suffering from a drug addiction."

The department encouraged people to share the video and talk to their children about what they were doing.

"We work with our law enforcement partners in this county to combat the drug problem, but we can't do it alone," the department wrote. "Law enforcement and the community must work together to fight this epidemic."

- Washington Post

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