Charleroi kayak launch has become a liability concern

Charleroi Council considers removing launch after heroin overdose rescue

September 13, 2017
The new kayak launch along the Monongahela River in Charleroi - Scott Beveridge/Observer-Reporter Order a Print

CHARLEROI – Charleroi Council is considering the removal of a new kayak launch after the daring rescue of a heroin overdose victim who fell from it last week into the Monongahela River.

Charleroi Councilman Larry Celaschi said the incident is one of several that have taken place at the Second Street launch, which was a gift to the borough during efforts to connect the town to the water.

“We’re going to be talking about it to see what’s in the best interest of the town,” Celaschi said Wednesday.

Chris McBride, a captain with Charleroi Fire Department, rescued the man who overdosed by going into the cold water while being held from the dock by his son and fellow firefighter, Dillon, borough fire Chief Bob Whiten said.

Whiten said he later recommended to borough officials that there needs to be some type of security at the launch until the property next to it is developed.

Celaschi and Whiten praised McBride for his efforts to save the overdose victim, who had water in his lungs and was given the opiate antidote Narcan before being taken to a hospital.

“It was heroic. He didn’t have to jump in that water,” said Whiten, adding McBride took several risks that night.

The kayak launch has also been vandalized, and syringes and empty alcohol bottles also have been found there, Celaschi said.

“This is just one more incident,” he said.

Charleroi’s heroin problem has been escalating, he noted.

The fire department had 18 medical calls in August, and 17 of them involved drug overdoses, Whiten said.

One woman was recently revived with Narcan three times in the same day, Celaschi said.

The Charleroi launch and others in Monongahela and Fredericktown were installed this summer under a $246,000 state grant to Washington County.

County Commissioner Harlan Shober said he would hate to see the launch in Charleroi removed because of the heroin epidemic.

“This is a local decision that they have to make,” Shober said.

He said the county has been working hard to build recreational opportunities along the Monongahela River.

A decision would have to be made as to where to put the launch if Charleroi has it removed, Shober said.

The kayak launch issue is expected to be discussed when council meets at 6 p.m. today.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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