Pubdate: Fri, 26 Aug 2005
Source: Altoona Mirror (PA)
Copyright: 2005 Altoona Mirror
Author: Phil Ray
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Heroin)


The family of Ernest Lauver Jr. will hold a block party today in
memory of his brother, Scott, who died Thursday after injecting what
police believe is a deadly mixture of heroin and the painkiller fentanyl.

Lauver wants to get the message across to people to stay away from
illegal drugs like heroin.

In Blair County, it may seem like nobody is listening, but Coroner
Patty Ross has at least one good message: Drug overdose deaths are
down dramatically this year.

With deaths approaching 25 in 2005, this year, the number of fentanyl
and heroin deaths is at four, with three more deaths under

But that is of little consolation to Ross or the Lauver

Standing outside the family's duplex at 18th Street and 14th Avenue,
Ernest Lauver, 44, said his 42-year-old brother was an over-the-road
truck driver.

He passed the drug screening he needed to obtain his truck driver's
license and worked regularly, driving over several states.

On Thursday evening, after Scott Lauver came to his father's house at
18th Street and 14th Avenue, he was sitting on the porch railing
talking with family. He suddenly grabbed his head, went into
convulsions and fell to the porch floor.

Medical personnel were called, but attempts to resuscitate Scott
Lauver failed.

Also Thursday night, a 25-year-old man around the block on 13th Avenue

An Altoona patrolman was able to open his airway, and medics revived

Police say like Lauver, the 25-year-old had injected heroin prior to
his seizures.

City police issued a bulletin indicating that the deadly heroin may be
laced with fentanyl.

The mixture of heroin or cocaine with fentanyl has played havoc in
cities such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Detroit. In Detroit, about
30 people died this year because of fentanyl-laced heroin.

Ross said the problem of bad heroin is serious enough that the Center
for Substance Abuse Treatment of the Pennsylvania Department of Health
and Human Services issued information to coroners.

Ross said she won't know for sure if Scott Lauver, father of two sons
in the Army and a daughter, ingested the heroin-fentanyl mixture for
several weeks.

Meanwhile, Altoona police say they want to talk to a male who may have
sold drugs to Scott Lauver.

"We would sure like to identify this guy and get him into custody,"
Deputy Police Chief Mitchell Cooper said.

Members of the Lauver family say that if the dealer named Shawn dealt
the deadly drug to Scott Lauver, he should be charged with murder.

Richard Jukes Sr., who is married to and lives in the duplex with
Scott Lauver's niece, Cindy, said the drug dealer who distributed the
bad heroin should get the death penalty.

"I despise drug dealers," Jukes said.

Anthony Sassano, a supervising agent with the state attorney general,
who works with the West Drug Task Force, said heroin is bad enough for
people to ingest.

But fentanyl is like boosting the size of a 500-pound bomb to 1,000
pounds. The heroin becomes powerful and gives the heroin user a bigger

The high heroin users get eventually wears off, but they keep taking
the drug to avoid the extreme sickness that comes when they stop taking it.

County medics are adept at reviving drug abusers who overdose. The
county experiences "numerous overdoses every week," Sassano said.

The appeal of the fentanyl-laced heroin is that it gives a long-time
user a high he can't get from his normal dose.

However, the fentanyl-heroin mixture also can bring about sudden death
because of respiratory or cardiac arrest.

Cindy Jukes did not know her uncle as a drug user.

"He was pretty decent. ... He was a well-known guy who got along with
everyone," she said.

Ernie Lauver was at a softball game and on his way home when he heard
about his brother's death.

He said his brother loved driving trucks.

The small gathering of neighbors from noon to 6 p.m. on 14th Avenue is
designed to get the message across to people to stop using deadly drugs.

"I don't know if it's going to be a wake-up call," Ernie Lauver said
of his brother's death. 
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