Investigators connecting the dots on overdoses

It’s too early to call Tuesday’s outbreak of 17 heroin overdoses in Jackson and Jennings counties an epidemic, a local police official said.

That outbreak, however, left a North Vernon woman dead and police searching for answers about why it happened and what to do to make sure a similar outbreak doesn’t occur in the future.

“It’s obviously a problem here, but not unsimilar to what other communities are seeing,” said Seymour Assistant Police Chief Craig Hayes.

Just four of the overdoses occurred Tuesday night in Jackson County — three at one apartment on the city’s southeast side and a fourth involving a woman who found her way to the hospital.

Wednesday was much calmer for police, although there was a heroin overdose on the city’s west side. The wife of the 25-year-old man in that case used Narcan to revive him, and he declined medical treatment. Police said they did not know if that overdose was related to Tuesday’s outbreak.

Hayes said heroin and other opiates have become an issue for a couple of years, especially after it became harder to legally get pain medication.

Heroin is cheaper and easier to obtain than other illegal drugs, such as cocaine, Hayes said.

While there was a report of an overdose on heroin Wednesday night, the overdose was not fatal and was counteracted by a spouse administering a single dose of Narcan, a sign that carfentanil was not involved, said Dennis Brasher, executive director of Jackson County Emergency Medical Services.

In that isolated incident in the 1300 block of West Second Street, the man refused transportation to the hospital.

Hayes said all law enforcement officials take the seriousness of the overdoses to heart. As officers, they often feel a sense of responsibility to the community.

“All our families live here,” he said. “We want to do the best job we can to keep people safe.”

This often means fighting an uphill battle, as people who overdose often do so by their own choice, meaning police and medical staff often are having to save individuals from themselves and their addictions.

As for the investigation into the heroin problem and the outbreak of overdoses, police have not made much progress yet, but Seymour Police Chief Bill Abbott said they will.

“It’s rough to get information in the first 24 hours,” he said. “The world doesn’t stand still so you can figure these things out.”

Abbott said his officers have been and will continue to be in touch with state and local law enforcement from all of the areas affected by the outbreak.

“We have to connect all the dots,” he said.

At a glance

If you have any information about the recent heroin overdose outbreak, call the Seymour Police Department at 812-522-1234.

Aaron Piper is a photographer and reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at or 812-523-7057.