WARNING: Graphic images

A police department in Ohio has shared on Facebook disturbing photos of a man and woman passed out in a car with a toddler in the backseat after the pair had allegedly overdosed on heroin.

The unsettling images appeared on the City of East Liverpool's social media page on Thursday.

Officials say they decided to make the photos public to raise awareness of the heroin epidemic in the state, and also to try and deter people from using drugs while having children in their care.


Addiction to opioids such as heroin, morphine, fentanyl and codeine in the US has reached the proportions of a full-scale epidemic in recent years.

In Ohio, which has been among the states hardest hit by the opioid scourge, there were 3,000 unintentional drug overdoses last year, at an average of eight per day.

"We are well aware that some may be offended by these images and for that we are truly sorry, but it is time that the non drug using public sees what we are now dealing with on a daily basis," it says in the caption accompanying the photos.

"The poison known as heroin has taken a strong grip on many communities not just ours, the difference is we are willing to fight this problem until it's gone and if that means we offend a few people along the way we are prepared to deal with that."

An East Liverpool police officer was driving along St Clair Avenue at around 3.11pm Thursday when he spotted a dark Ford Explorer with West Virginia plates that was driving erratically before screeching to a stop near a school bus that was dropping off children, according to an arrest report that was also shared on Facebook.

When the officer approached the vehicle, he noticed that the driver, identified as 47-year-old James Acord, appeared intoxicated, with his head bobbing back and forth and his speech almost unintelligible.

Acord told the officer that he was driving 50-year-old Rhonda Pasek to a hospital. The woman was slumped over in the front passenger seat.

According to police, Acord then made an attempt to drive away, but at that moment the officer reached into the car and pulled the keys out of the ignition.

Officials say they decided to make the photos of the unconscious man and woman public to raise awareness of the heroin epidemic in the state. Photo / East Liverpool Police department
Officials say they decided to make the photos of the unconscious man and woman public to raise awareness of the heroin epidemic in the state. Photo / East Liverpool Police department

That is when the officer noticed Pasek's 4-year-old in the backseat.

Paramedics who were summoned to the scene administered Narcan - a drug used to counteract the effects of a heroin overdose - to Pasek and Acord, who by that point had passed out as well. The couple were then taken to East Liverpool City Hospital to be evaluated.

Acord was later charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, endangering children, and slowing or stopping in a road.

He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 180 days in jail for each of the first two charges, according to The Weirton Daily Times. The last count of impeding traffic was dropped.

Acord's punishment also includes a three-year license suspension and a $475 fine, reported the station WTOV.

Pasek was charged with endangering children, public intoxication and not wearing a seatbelt. She pleaded not guilty and was ordered held on $150,000 bond pending her next court appearance scheduled for September 15.

Her young son has been placed in the custody of Columbiana County Children's Services.

The City of Weirton, West Virginia, also shared the images of the couple on its Facebook page and revealed additional information about their background.

According to the post, Acord has a history with substance abuse and run-ins with the law in West Virginia. His history includes multiple arrests on DUI charges, most recently in March of this year.

Public records indicate that Acord's laundry-list rap sheet includes a slew of arrests dating back to at least 1990 in Florida, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia and Ohio on charges ranging from drinking in public to robbery.

Pasek also has a history of arrests and substance abuse, including a drug possession charge in 2011. Court records in Pennsylvania include past charges of public drunkenness and disorderly conduct.