Bill Mandates Rendering Aid in Overdoses

Bill Mandates Rendering Aid in Overdoses

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Citing overdose victims dying because their friends fail to get help, a legislator is proposing making it a crime to not render aid.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Salt Lake City, would apply not just to overdoses incidents but to any case in which a person should be rendering aid but does not do so.

It would make failure to render aid a class B misdemeanor.

"Law enforcement feels like their hands are just tied. Parents are like, 'Isn't there any consequence for these kids that abandon their friends?' " she said. "If you're going to do drugs with your friends, and somebody gets into a bad situation, you can't just abandon them or you're going to be liable."

Mike Sorich, the father of overdose victim Amelia Sorich, said he supports anything that would prevent a situation like what happened to his daughter from happening to someone else.

The 18-year-old woman died in June after being injected twice with a mixture of cocaine and heroin by her best friend during a party. Instead of calling 911 or a parent when they noticed she was unconscious, they let her die and then dumped her body in the foothills above Bountiful.

In a similar incident, the body of 18-year-old Zachary Tyler Martinez was dumped at the Salt Lake County Hang-Gliding Park at Point of the Mountain after he fatally overdosed.

"I think that there needs to be something done so that people just don't let people die. There has to be some consequence," Mike Sorich said. "If someone passes out and are on drugs, then there needs to be consequences (if no help is rendered). Currently the way the law sits now, there's nothing. I just think that's wrong."

Moss agreed to sponsor the bill after she was approached by Salt Lake County sheriff's Deputy Doug Lambert, a former narcotics unit member who specialized in juvenile drug use.

The idea for the bill came when Lambert responded to an overdose on the county's east side last month.

Stephen James Sill, 27, died of a drug overdose in November. By the time his friends called 911, it was too late. Lambert wanted to file negligent homicide charges, but found out that he couldn't.

Furthermore, Lambert said the goal of the bill is not to punish those who abandon their friends, but to educate those people and catch their attention.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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