As a sad, chilling scene played out last weekend outside a Hazleton-area bar, we couldn’t help but think it was something all impressionable young people should see for themselves.
They might walk away from it scared or even sick to their stomach, but we guarantee they would remember it and it would serve as one heck of a deterrent if they ever thought about getting involved with hard drugs.
It was about 12:30 a.m. Sunday.
As is his habit, a member of our editorial board left work and headed out for his usual end-of-week treat — two beers and some conversation with friends.
Nothing at his usual watering hole was any different than any other night, but that was about to change quickly.
A regular — we know his name but won’t use it in this space — arrived in somewhat loud fashion, said hello, and moved on to greet his friends.
Not too long after, the same guy appeared extremely disheveled while sitting at a table by himself. He had an agitated look to him, and appeared to be trying to revive himself by repeatedly bringing the crook of his arm up to the side of his head.
Just drunk, right?
Two or three minutes later, there was a commotion by the restroom and a call for help to the very large bouncer.
The guy who had just walked in was on the floor of the restroom and couldn’t get up. He had to be carried out of the place.
This seemed way more than just somebody having over-imbibed.
Now, as a group got the guy outside to get him some air, they saw another man flat on his back on landscaping stones right next to the steps.
That guy’s lips were turning purple, and it was clear he needed immediate medical attention.
It also became clear what had happened — two people at the same bar overdosed within minutes of each other and were in dire straits.
The guy who passed out inside never lost consciousness but he couldn’t stand up.
As multiple ambulances and police vehicles arrived, the top concern was the other man found outside.
He was making a strange gurgling or snoring sound that a medical person later described as a “death rattle,” common when someone is just about to die.
We’re not exactly sure what medics did, but it looked like the unconscious man got some type of injection. We also saw a rescuer apply what’s known as a sternum rub in an attempt to rouse him.
None of it worked, and the guy was strapped to a gurney and taken away in an ambulance.
We’ve since heard the overdoses were due to cocaine use.
And no, we don’t know for sure if the guy taken to the hospital lived or died.
Let us remind readers at this point, this was not some dive bar where this happened. A new owner has fixed up the place nicely over the last year or so, there’s strict security, and it’s not in a bad neighborhood or known for attracting a bad crowd.
Unfortunately, drug use is so rampant, these horrific scenes can play out almost anywhere.
And there seems to be no stopping it.
In Luzerne County alone, there were 155 overdose deaths in 2017, the third consecutive year of new record highs.
We certainly hope no one involved in this weekend’s incident will be added to the 2018 totals.
But everyone — especially young people who might be at risk of veering from the straight and narrow — would be well-advised to consider the words of a policeman who responded to the bar.
“Everyone take a good look and remember this,” he said.
Indeed, we will.
— Times Leader