Couple in Ohio Heroin Photo Would Have Likely Died if Police Didn’t Intervene

September 12, 2016 Updated: September 12, 2016

Following the decision to publish controversial photos of a couple passed out allegedly while on heroin as their child sat in the back seat of a car, an Ohio police department explained why.

East Liverpool service safety director Brian Allen told CNN on Monday that that man and woman would have “almost definitely” died if police hadn’t intervened. Police stopped the two after the driver was acting erratically last Wednesday, stopping behind a school bus.

A police officer who was going to work stopped behind he vehicle and saw the two, capturing the now-viral images. “He actually put the (suspects’) car in park and shut the car off,” Allen said of the officer.

A police report also stated that the woman, named Rhonda Pasek, was turning blue, and police were forced to use opiate reversal agent Narcan.

The child was identified as Pasek’s son, and East Liverpool Police Chief John Lane said the ordeal will will be helpful for the child. 

“It’ll get him the help that he needs, get him out of that environment and get him where he needs to be—in a safe environment, in a loving environment,” he told CNN.

In publishing the photo, the East Liverpool city government noted in a message on Facebook that it would be controversial. They felt that because of heroin’s grip on the region, it needed to be done to raise awareness of the issue.

“We feel fully justified and vindicated in what we did,” Allen told People magazine, adding that for every negative reaction, there were four positive ones.

“Sometimes the truth is a gruesome thing,” Allen told the Associated Press. “And that picture is the truth of what my officers deal with every single day.

Ohio’s attorney general, Mike DeWine, explained that the photos sadly aren’t that unique.

“Tragically, these scenes are not that unusual,” he told the magazine. “The face of substance abuse, particularly heroin, is as familiar as the faces of our families, our neighbors, our co-workers, and our friends.”

He added: “Families are being torn apart in Ohio by heroin, and, as shown in these images, innocent children are the victims.”

In 2014, about 1,177 Ohio residents died of heroin-related deaths, according to a “60 Minutes” report last year. “There’s no typical person. It just has permeated every segment of society in Ohio,” DeWine said at the time.