(CNN) – You drive by them all the time: inmates and corrections officers on a highway work crew, but one such group is credited with saving a man who had overdosed on heroin. And for two of the heroes, the story is very personal.
“She was screaming ‘I need help’.”
“I just wanted him to live because I know what it’s like to be an addict. I’m an addict myself and committed crimes to feed addiction.”
The inmate serving a sentence for stealing, to get drugs, was on a work detail picking up trash on the side of the 495, when a motorist Wednesday drove up seeing their van. The inmate and sheriff helped save the life of her passenger who had overdosed on heroin.
“Dennis looked at me and said ‘Sergeant, we have to do something. He’s going to die.”
The inmate knew the look.
The Essex sheriff knew the pain of losing someone, his own son Chris.
“I get emotional. I look out and say, you know something… why wasn’t somebody there for my Chris that would do this? Why didn’t Chris get the chance? He was using it a lot at night time in his bedroom. I went in his bedroom a couple days later–and I found him dead.”
The inmate used heroin for 5 years; he’s been clean for 3 months.
The men performed rescue breaths on the overdose victim and flagged down a passing ambulance.
“The ambulance was there. They administered the Narcan and about 45 seconds after that he woke up.”
“I went to the girl after everything and she was hysterical. I gave her a hug and I said please, please I don’t want you to go through this. I lost my son for this same thing. It’s the most worst feeling in the world to find a loved one dead.”
“It’s a real wakeup call, you know. I think that experiencing that is going to eventually help me in my own recovery.”
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