Near-fatal heroin overdose earns man drug charges

A 53-year-old Northumberland County man faces drug charges after he suffered a near fatal heroin overdose in the city’s Vallamont neighborhood, according to Patrolman Justin Ottaviano.

Within minutes after he was picked up by a friend on Belmont Avenue about 5:15 p.m. on May 9, Robert L. Clayton Jr., of Watsontown, became unresponsive in the passenger seat, the officer said.

The panic-stricken driver sped to Divine Providence Hospital on Grampian Boulevard, hoping to get his friend to an emergency room, but the hospital’s emergency room closed several years ago.

“The driver said Clayton started to pass out and went unresponsive. He said Clayton looked sick and he ‘thought Clayton would die’ so he drove to Divine Providence,” Ottaviano said in an affidavit.

The driver pulled into one of the hospital’s parking lots and waved to a hospital employee who was just getting off work, Ottaviano said.

The employee called for an ambulance and checked Clayton’s vital signs, the officer said.

When Ottaviano arrived on the scene, Clayton was still unresponsive.

“I noticed a needle and a shoelace on the truck’s floor, next to Clayton’s feet. I also noticed a fresh needle mark on Clayton’s forearm (and) a vein on the arm was bleeding,” the officer said.

Clayton was rushed by ambulance to the Williamsport Regional Medical Center. While medical staff was treating him, police checked his clothing. An officer found two packs of heroin in the pockets, court records state.

Clayton told Ottaviano that he had injected heroin and that he was addicted to the drug. Clayton said he had started drug rehabilitation just days earlier, “but re-lapsed,” according to the officer.

Clayton, who later was discharged from the hospital, has been charged with possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia, and has been sent a summons to appear before District Judge Allen P. Page III.