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Investigators: Overdose antidote

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  • Father: 'Heroin got its claws in her and wouldn't let go'

    Father: 'Heroin got its claws in her and wouldn't let go'

    Sunday, October 13 2013 7:32 PM EDT2013-10-13 23:32:41 GMT
    The father of a young Hudson woman who survived a heroin overdose the same weekend "Glee" star Cory Monteith died says she tried to fight addiction, but she won't recover from her last relapse.
    The father of a young Hudson woman who survived a heroin overdose the same weekend "Glee" star Cory Monteith died says his daughter tried to fight addiction, but her relapse last week is one she won't recover from.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

A three-digit phone call could have made all the difference, but it took 40 minutes before someone got around to dialing 911. By then, it was already too late.

"It's just still very, very raw," admitted Tim Willson. "You know, that emotion of loss."

The caller told dispatch that there was a person inside a car at the Burger King parking lot in Brookdale that couldn't wake up. That person was Ariel Eaton-Willson, the 23-year-old daughter of Brooklyn Center Mayor Tim Willson and his wife, Minnesota Sen. Chris Eaton.

"I just shut down," Eaton recalled. "It was so painful, I couldn't even stand to feel anything. I was just empty."

Eaton-Willson and a friend drove to the parking lot to meet a drug dealer, bought $20 of heroin and shot up in her car. Meanwhile, the lunch crowd at the drive-thru was oblivious to the life-shattering event unfolding nearby.

"I got out of the car and she was fine, you know," the friend told police in an interview. "I bummed a cigarette from her and stepped out of the car."

That friend told police by the time he came back, Eaton-Willson was slumped over, unconscious and barely breathing; however, instead of calling an ambulance, his first instinct was to get rid of the drug evidence -- two needles that were sitting out.

So, he cleaned out the car, went inside the restaurant and tossed the paraphernalia in the men's room trash -- but all of that took precious time away from getting Eaton-Willson the medical attention she desperately needed. Eventually, the restaurant manager noticed something was wrong and made the critical call.

A police officer in the drive-thru line was flagged down to help, but even then, her friend kept quiet.

"He denied to the police officer that he knew what was wrong with Ariel or why she wasn't conscious," Eaton told FOX 9.

Despite many attempts to revive her, the drug overdose had suppressed her breathing for too long.

"There's been a lot of driving home on the highway in tears," Willson disclosed. "There still is."

Tens of thousands of Americans overdose on opiates -- a class of drugs that includes prescription pain killers and heroin -- each year. Among them, actor Cory Monteith, of "Glee" fame, who died in July.

"There are more people dying of drug overdoses than there are of motor vehicle accidents," Dr. Gavin Bart, at HCMC, stated.

In Hennepin and Ramsey counties, 129 lives were snuffed out by overdoses in 2012. Now, Eaton wants to pass a law that will cut the death toll.

"I don't think he would have spent the time getting rid of all the paraphernalia if he knew he wasn't going to be prosecuted," she explained.

Eaton's bill would grant immunity to a person who witnesses an overdose and calls for help, and it would also make an overdose antidote more widely available.

"I don't remember anything," Tim, who is undergoing treatment through Minnesota Teen Challenge, confessed.

Paramedics gave Tim a shot of Naloxone after he was found unconscious in a gas station rescue.

"Within seconds, they're able to breathe on their own -- they're able to answer questions," Robert Ball, at HCMC, said of the antidote's effects.

Tim used his second chance to go into treatment.

"Things are looking up and I'm just excited, man," he said.

When he heard of Eason's bill, he quickly voiced support.

"It can save people's lives. It saved my life," he said.

Under current Minnesota law, only health care professionals can administer Naloxone to an overdose victim. Eason's bill would put the inexpensive and harmless antidote in the hands of police officers, firefighters and even members of the general public.

"I overdosed just over two years ago," Kallan, who is also in treatment with Minnesota Teen Challenge, told the FOX 9 Investigators.

Kallan came back from the brink because he had a friend who had Naloxone and used it in his time of need even though it was illegal to do so -- an act he is thankful for.

"I wouldn't be here today," he admits. "I'd be gone."

In some cities in Massachusetts, first responders carry a nasal spray version of the drug. The result has been clear -- a dramatic drop in deaths. In fact, the drug can almost halve the overdose deaths in a community.

"Our society accepts the importance of such things as air bags and seat belts for our cars to make them safe, but overdose causes more deaths than our vehicles do," Dr. Aaron Devries, of the Minnesota Department of Health, argued.

Yet, Eaton's legislation to grant immunity has faced some pushback from prosecutors who are concerned it might let too many abusers get off easy.

"It's a little broad," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman opined. "I think we can do a better job of structuring that, and we're willing to do that."

On the other hand, Eaton contends that the priority should be on saving lives rather than on locking up survivors.

"I want a life saved," she said. "It didn't do a thing for me when they locked up the drug dealer. It meant nothing to me. My daughter was gone."

As for what came of Eaton-Willson's friend, he was never prosecuted. The FOX 9 Investigators were unable to locate him for an interview -- but early on after her death, Eaton sent him a message.

"I expected him to make something of his life -- that he was now living for two," she said. "He owed that to Ariel."

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