Bathroom overdose more evidence of wide scope of opiate epidemic

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Heroin has taken another life. This time it’s a disabled veteran. As overdose numbers rise we know the numbers but not the names.

Michael Wescott was found dead in a public restroom from an apparent overdose. According to a police report he may have been in the restroom for more than 12 hours.

Wescott, 62, walked into a restroom at the Phillips 66 gas station on South Calhoun Street late Monday night. He never came out. According to the police report,  the next day someone else needed in the restroom, but it was locked from the inside and no one was answering. Police found Wescott inside, slumped over a motorized wheelchair, a syringe in his hand and paraphernalia nearby.

“Those with the roughest problems we open our doors to,” Richard Lugar Safe Haven for Veterans Director David Wilson said.

The report said the wheelchair found with Wescott belonged to the Richard Lugar Safe Haven for Veterans which is a place for veterans fighting addiction to stay and receive help. Wescott was identified by his license and VA I.D.  However, due to confidentiality reasons Wilson could not confirm Wescott was staying there at the time of his death, or ever stayed there.

He did sit down to talk about the trouble veterans face when it comes to addiction.

“This is not a new problem,” Wilson said.

Wilson said due to chronic physical pain or emotional pain like PTSD veterans are prone to turn to the streets to try to find relief.  The Safe Haven opened in Fort Wayne in 2014.

“We usually have a waiting list,” Wilson said. “The program is designed for 25 male, 2 female and we are almost always full. You can harden your heart but the reality is that individual is dealing with something they cannot control.”

Police believe Wescott died of a heroin overdose, however the coroner’s office has not determined the cause of death until toxicology reports are back.

This week another drug has wreaked even more havoc on the community. Police said they’ve responded to more than 20 overdoses in 24 ours because of a batch of drugs being sold as spice on the streets. They’re trying to determine what is in the batch.