7 ON YOUR SIDE presents 'Heroin Highway'
WASHINGTON (ABC7) —
February 15th through the 19th, 7 ON YOUR SIDE presents a week-long series about a stretch of interstate that begins in Baltimore and runs through Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia.
Police call the area the "Heroin Highway."
With the nation in the midst of a heroin epidemic, what happens to cities situated closest to a decades old heroin stronghold like Baltimore? Baltimore certainly is not the reason behind the epidemic, but law enforcement agencies from Winchester, Virginia to Hagerstown, Maryland say their heroin addicts are traveling to and from Baltimore to the buy the drug daily sometimes even twice a day.
Journey with 7 ON YOUR SIDE as we travel along the "Heroin Highway" all week.
We take off on the "Heroin Highway" and show you the route and the cities through which it passes. Then we head to the beginning of the trail in Baltimore where we meet with the city's top cop, Baltimore city police commissioner Kevin Davis. His honest reactions to the current state of the heroin epidemic and he sheds light on his plan which is already in action to help thwart heroin supply lines in Baltimore. Plus don't miss our trip to a counseling center where we meet a 30 year heroin addict who kicked the habit. Is the answer to solving the epidemic also right there in Baltimore?
Kevin Simmers was a Hagerstown police officer for 25 years. He spent years working narcotics in the city's downtown area. As he put it, everyone knew him and always turned to him for help. Then the heroin epidemic struck Hagerstown and the deadly drug got its hook in his own daughter. Like so many, her tale of heroin began with experimenting with prescription pain pills which quickly lead her to a cheaper opioid: heroin.
The "Heroin Highway" series heads to Virginia where, in 2014, more residents died of heroin and prescription pain pill overdoses than in car accidents. To tackle the issue, the state's Attorney General spearheaded a documentary so emotional and raw, it's bringing audiences to tears across the state. It's an unapologetic look at the heroin epidemic in the state. You can watch it by clicking here. We talk to families of those who lost their lives to heroin and who watched the documentary. Do they think the documentary depicts the devastation heroin leaves in its wake in an accurate way?
And 7 ON YOUR SIDE travels down interstate 81 to Winchester, Virginia where one fatal heroin overdose in 2012 jumped to thirty three fatal heroin overdoses in 2013...and people are still dying.
There is also a heartbreaking trip to Winchester regional medical center where doctors report seeing anywhere from five to seven newborn babies of opioid addicted mothers suffering from withdrawal in their neonatal intensive care unit routinely.
A city being decimated by the scourge of heroin. We hit the streets and found one resident after the other with a story about heroin. We meet with West Virginia governor Earl Ray Tomblin who is leading a statewide fight to save lives from heroin. Hear one mother's painful story of trying to find help for her daughter. Her daughter was turned down and one month later she was dead, said the mother. It's a sun up to sun down battle to save lives along the heroin highway.
Travel up the highway as we land in Hagerstown and join community rescue crews in a round-the-clock response to heroin and prescription drug overdoses. The numbers keep going up. Also, get on the road with Maryland State Police as they watch the roads and try to intercede in the effort to go after suppliers who are using the highway to transport the deadly drug.
Don't miss a tale of heroin that stopped us cold on a street corner along the heroin highway. Her impactful words explain the force of the addiction and offer hope in the fight to break free of heroin's hold.
Friday, February 19th from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.: Substance Phone Bank
Also, plan ahead, this Friday February 19th, 7 ON YOUR SIDE fighting back against crime investigator, Jennifer Donelan, hosts a 2 hour phone bank in the fight against heroin. Call in with your questions and/or tips starting Friday. Keep the number handy: It is 703-236-9220. Again, phone lines open up at 4:30 p.m. this Friday February 19th and close at 6:30 p.m.