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Motel overdose and suspect search puts "Good Samaritan" law in spotlight

April 16, 2018 11:19 PM

A recent case is causing the Gates Police Department to remind everyone they will not get in trouble if they report an overdose.

Scott Pernesky is wanted in connection to the death of Jennifer Baker. Police say he was with Baker when she died in February of a heroin overdose. Gates Police aggressively go after people connected to overdose deaths, and Gates Police Chief Jim VanBrederode tells News10NBC that people could face much more serious consequences if they do nothing.

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Many people, however, refuse to dial 911.

"Soon as I answered, they said 'I had somebody overdosed. What do I do?'" says David Attridge, part of Recovery Now NY. He told them they should call 911, only for the person on the other end to say that wasn't going to happen, because "I've got some issues." 

Attridge is talking about the Gates to Recovery Hotline. It's a 24-hour hotline that offers help for people struggling with the disease of addiction, and that's a call he received over the weekend. 

"I said okay, you know what, call 911 and give them all the information. At least call 911, try to save your friends life. They say okay I'll do that. I don't know how it turned out because we don't get a call back." 

That call got Attridge and Chief VanBrederode to wonder how many people know about a 2011 law in New York State that could save lives. It's called the "Good Samaritan Law". It provides immunity to people who call for help when they know someone has overdosed on drugs.

"You're not going to be prosecuted if the police come and there are some drugs left over at the scene, or needles," says VanBrederode. 

The Chief says that as this community grapples with the opioid epidemic, the law could save lives, like that of Jennifer Baker. VanBrederode says that Pernesky was with her when she apparently overdosed on heroin at the Motel 6 in Gates and died. 

"The Good Samaritan Law... it is there to protect people, and to call 911 and not just let somebody die and leave their body there without nobody knowing." 

People are protected by the Good Samaritan Law under most cases. More information on the law can be found here, here, and here.

WHECTV

Copyright 2018 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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