He was 24, still babyfaced, with sad, sweet eyes, and he had two babies of his own.
He'd always been sensitive, prone to depression, and drawn to the drugs that eased it. I would do insane things to make myself un-sick," he wrote.
"We sit out here and tell people to get help, and most of them are like, 'I'm on this waiting list.' There's just not enough resources." Some come in having hid the secret of their heroin use, like the auto mechanic who died in a rented room in Kensington that was decorated only with a photo of his late mother. By September, 953 people had died of overdoses in Philadelphia, about 85 percent of them from opioids. The city's plight has drawn national attention, for the depth of the crisis and the efforts of its citizens to meet it — from frontline workers in Kensington, where the epidemic is most visible and the misery most acute, to City Hall, where officials mull harm-reduction efforts that once seemed radical.
A final count is pending; the Medical Examiner's Office is still awaiting toxicology reports from the last three months of the year. At the end of a year with a record-breaking death toll, the Inquirer and Daily News spent a month accessing police records and data from the Medical Examiner's Office, and interviewed beat cops, paramedics, outreach workers, those in addiction, and the families who crossed that bridge — whose journey led them to the Medical Examiner's Office.
Since the city closed down the heroin encampment in the railroad gulch on Gurney Street this summer, other encampments have sprouted under railroad bridges, on street corners, and in vacant lots.
City cleanup workers move the encampments weekly, to the chagrin of the young people who sleep there – and, increasingly, the beat cops. " Their day-to-day reality includes treating overdose victims with Narcan, patrolling the camps that fill the sidewalks now, or arresting small-time dealers.
His apartment in a trailer park, and the chair and the space heater that by the end were all that was left inside it. In the car, driving him home from prison the day after Halloween, Danielle was optimistic, Christian was realistic.