Washington County heroin epidemic making national headlines

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Pa. — The heroin epidemic is getting so bad in Washington County it’s making national headlines.

The Washington Post published an article focused on the two days where 25 people overdosed.


Of those 25, three died and several others had to be saved using Narcan – one of whom was Jessica Neal.

Authorities said Neal overdosed last Monday in the bathroom of a Walgreens in Washington with her 2-year-old daughter locked inside with her.

The Washington Post spoke with her father, Sonny, who said: "She doesn't need jail. She wasn't out stealing or doing crimes. What she needs is help."

“We've had 220 people die in Washington County since 2011 of heroin and opiate overdoses,” Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone said.

Vittone has been working with U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton for years to combat the problem.

“We're putting all our resources on it. We're treating it as a top priority,” Vittone said. “They need to know we mean business.”

Earlier this year, police officers and medics were able to revive an unresponsive man in a Washington parking lot Wednesday after a Channel 11 News photographer noticed the man slumped over in his car, pulled him out and began CPR before calling 911 (CLICK HERE to watch raw video of the dramatic rescue).

In the spring, a string of overdoses in the Pittsburgh area stemmed from a bad batch of heroin that investigators determined contained fentanyl.

Investigators said the fact that Washington County is situated between Interstate 70 and Interstate 79 could be contributing to the problem, because drugs can be easily received from New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Detroit.

“We're still getting our arms around it. It's been a really bad epidemic,” Vittone said.

Anyone wanting to learn more about the importance of CPR and where to get trained can utilize the resources listed below:

Additionally, anyone seeking resources on drug use can visit the links below: