Overdose leads to charges against two

April 4, 2013
Antonio Joseph Manion

Two men were charged this week by McDonald police after one reportedly overdosed on heroin at an Independence Township home last month and his acquaintance allegedly did not immediately summon help.

According to police, Blaine Howcroft, 27, of 4199 Battle Ridge Road, McDonald, overdosed on heroin March 8 at the home of Antonio Joseph Manion, 33, of 91 Highland Ave., Independence.

When police arrived at the home that night after receiving a report of an overdose, they could hear someone inside yelling for help. Manion directed police to the kitchen, where they found a man, later identified as Howcroft, unresponsive. Manion told police that he performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Howcroft for about 20 minutes. Howcroft became responsive as paramedics arrived.

Police said they saw fresh needle marks on his left arm, and Howcroft kept reaching in his pockets. He then reportedly admitted to police that he had used heroin and was not sure what happened to the needle. While police were searching Howcroft for the syringe, they said they found a stamp bag of suspected heroin in his wallet and one packet of Suboxone. Howcroft later admitted to injecting two stamp bags of heroin, police said.

During the incident, police did not see any paraphernalia such as needles, tourniquets or lighters around Howcroft.

Two days later, police said they talked with an acquaintance who was with Howcroft that night. She reportedly told them that Howcroft and Manion left the house, and that she assumed they were going to buy heroin because Howcroft said he wanted to get high.

When Howcroft and Manion returned, she said Howcroft went into the kitchen, and a few minutes later he was found unresponsive. When the woman asked Manion for his cellphone so she could call 911, he allegedly asked her not to call. The woman told police she left the house and went to a neighbor’s to call 911. Manion also allegedly told her that he hid drugs and paraphernalia outside before police arrived. Police said Howcroft told them that two empty stamp bags, a spoon, cotton ball and needle were on the kitchen table before he lost consciousness.

Manion was arraigned at midnight Wednesday before District Judge Joshua Kanalis on charges of reckless endangerment, tampering with or fabricating evidence and hindering apprehension. He was placed in the Washington County jail on $25,000 bond. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing April 12 before District Judge Ethan Ward.

Howcroft was charged Wednesday with possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia. A summons will be sent from Ward’s office.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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