Epidemic of Overdoses in Lycoming County

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WILLIAMSPORT -- At least 37 overdoses have been reported in Lycoming County in just the past 24 hours.

That startling number is what officials call an epidemic.

The coroner says one of those overdoses was deadly.

Doctors in Williamsport will not know for sure until tests come back, but they believe there is a potentially lethal batch of heroin in Lycoming County.

Doctors at Susquehanna Health in Williamsport typically treat one or two overdose patients a day. But over the past 24 hours, that number is significantly higher. There have been more than 36 overdoses in Lycoming County.

"Epidemic proportions for our area here," said Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. Michael Gerst. "The most I've seen in the two years that I've worked in this facility."

One of those suspected heroin overdoses was deadly. Williamsport police say a man overdosed in the morning at a home on West Edwin Street.

"35 drug deaths last year and we're on course for the same number if not higher this year," said Lycoming County Coroner Charles Kiessling.

Hospital officials tell Newswatch 16 they believe there is a potentially lethal batch of heroin going around, but they won't know for sure until they get toxicology reports back in the next few days.

Newswatch 16 spoke with Robert Lose who has been clean for about two years. He was walking on West Edwin Street in Williamsport and saw what was going on.

"I actually took an overdose and I was on life support for three and a half weeks. Thank God that I'm here. It's time to stand up against this drug addiction," said Lose.

Doctors at Susquehanna Health in Williamsport say they are fully staffed and prepared for the influx of overdose patients.

"Anybody that's suspected or afflicted with this, it's our job to take care of them and get them through this acute process," said Dr. Gerst.

If you or a loved one have used heroin in Lycoming County in the past 24 to 48 hours, doctors urge you to go to the emergency room as soon as possible.


  • Trish

    Addiction is a disease. Although it may seem impossible to believe, drug addicts and alcoholics have to work a program to stay clean. NA and AA meetings. It’s not all about the drugs, they’re just a symptom of addiction. Also, halfway houses aren’t the problem, the residents are clean and sober, drug tested, and have AA and NA meeting requirements in order to stay. When they move out that’s a different story, some return to using, some don’t. I think its sad that majority of the comments are full of such ignorance. You don’t have to agree, but at least understand and stop passing judgement. Volunteer your time in a halfway house and maybe you will see that addicts are just like you and me. Some are school teachers, Doctors, and police officers, because addiction doesn’t care who you are.

  • Venessa

    A lot of these people have no hope no life no one who cares sometimes you give them a chance a friend or a little bit of help could be the best thing for them they gave up on their selves but if the had someone who didn’t or cared could really go a long way

  • meh

    and on the same page of wnep a bunch of idiots crying because of marijuana coming to this area…. im surrounded by morons.

    • El Ma

      During my lifetime, I cannot recollect a single case of someone overdosing on weed.

      I can, however, name almost a dozen people that I knew that used either alcohol or heroin and ended up dead, or having killed other people while under the influence of either substance.

      The alarming note of this article is that ER staff and doctors say that they treat an average of 2 drug overdoses, DAILY. Now……in a given year, that’s approximately 730 people each year in Williamsport that are overdosing themselves on whatever it is that they’re taking – opiates, heroin, crack, meth, whatever. I believe that the “epidemic” h as been in full swing for a long, long time. The recent rash of overdoses is just a spike in the overall dynamic.

  • Jones82

    They don’t deserve to die! My sister was an addict and is now sober for years, married with children, and works two jobs. So glad that we never gave up on her and just let her die. She is a beautiful person inside and out. What a loss it would’ve been for everyone she comes into contact with if we lost her. These people aren’t insects, they are human beings and have a problem. They deserve the right to help. I believe we do need to eliminate the drug and enforce stricter laws for users and sellers.

  • Simple Math

    Druggie + OD – Revive = Dead
    Dead = No burden on society + Less druggies
    Less druggies = Less demand
    Less demand = Less Heroin


    • donald lewis

      drug is a crime what happen to cold turkey how much can tax payers pay out to LOSERS give them a check every month only supports the dealer it’s not sickness it’s a weakness

      • El Ma

        SorryNotSorry, “the weak PERISH.” “Parish” is where churches are found.

        If you are perfect, that’s awesome. Assuming that you don’t drink, smoke, dip snuff, prioritize football over family time, steal pens from work, pick your nose, or do anything else that could even be remotely considered an addiction, then you need to write a book and start your own television program and counseling firm. Teach the world how to not be “weak” so that they, too, may bask in perfection.

        Addictions are choices, yes. But, it’s important to at least have compassion for another person’s frailty. Enabling that frailty? NOPE, nope, nope…….but, understanding that part of the Human Condition means that we’re all “weak” is a start.

        I don’t particularly “like” the idea that people are immersed in addictions, but they are. I’m a tobacco addict, and that’s it. I made the choice to finally stop smoking. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t love to have just one cigarette with my morning coffee. But, I understand addiction: if I have one cigarette, I’ll have 1001 – it will never end. So, I have made the choice to take it day-by-day. I have absolute compassion for others’ addictions, but I also know that it is their choice to either manage it, or not.

  • Thin the herd

    Why should we value these lives more than they value their own? Let them be responsible for their own bad decisions.

  • Bill

    I had surgery and had to use pain killers. That was 10 years ago I used them for about 3 day. . I had a broken shoulder. I also used them b4 that I had a ripped achillies tendon. I hate them things but I was in pain so I took them for a few days . I wasn’t week minded

  • I Remember

    Who remembers when this all started n Lycoming Co back in the 80’s? Remember when they started bringing all the halfway houses in and you were berated if you were against “helping those less fortunate?” That began the “Philly Express.” Drug users who trying to stay out of jail by hiding out in Williamsport for a few weeks or months. Of course the dealers followed.
    It used to be such a nice place.

    • El Ma

      I Remember, many larger cities have made similar deals to export their most dangerous and incorrigible residents. This practice should be abandoned, ASAP. Before you know it, meth labs and addicts will be swarming all throughout Mildred in Sullivan County. No, wait a minute………they already have………

  • Capt Bogart

    It is also huge here in Susquehanna County, PA.
    Local Police lack the resources and State Police don’t want to get involved. State Police have said numerous times, “this is a local issue.” PA State Senators, Representatives don’t want
    to get involved. It continues to grow. Rural towns can watch the numerous drug houses at work day and night.

    • keystone cops

      Yup, PSP in nepa are as lazy as the come. Only want duis. No money for them in anything else. And they don’t even patrol for duis, they kick back and wait for the cellphone cops to rat people out.

      • El Ma

        Keystone Cops, you got that straight! There was a PSP riding three cars behind me when I experienced a catastrophic deer collision. When I pulled my mangled vehicle off the road, that *$%& drover RIGHT past me without even slowing down, or glancing over to see if anyone had been injured.

        Investigation? LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Ridiculous Post

        Another pointless post from you. So now it’s the police departments fault? I guess those two troopers patrolling all of Susquehanna County should have this under control by now?
        The incessant foolish posts from you are incredible!

  • seen it all

    Die baby die , If your stupid enough to touch this stuff you might as well be dead , I was taught in elementary school that heroin was poison , IN 1970 — I believed what I was told by teachers . stupid people really want to be out of your mind and so low you would sleep with anything for a fix ? not my idea of a life , but hey enjoy your nothing existence .

  • BluEmu

    For whatever reason, these people have had nobody to guide them. I don’t know what the demographics are of these overdosed people are, but it would be interesting to know the age-group they fall in. My guess is that most of these people raised themselves without an intact family to show them the way.

    What’s happening, today, in comparison to the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s is that people aren’t facing any consequences for their actions, from the gate. What a mess. And, it absolutely IS a choice to use anything in an addictive manner.

    From food to tobacco to adrenaline rushes, anything can present a threat to health and well-being. Illegal street drugs are particularly dangerous because there’s no ingredient list on that little plastic bag. Was the heroin cut with laxatives, baby formula, or drano? Who’s to say?

    I am sorry that anyone’s life is cut short by an addiction, but the bottom line is that it is a choice and, it’s a roll of the dice.

  • debbbinz

    They can claim the addiction begins with pain meds, I’ve taken them myself after surgery and here I am clean as a whistle. There is a predisposition to addiction and those are the ones who get caught up. It IS a choice, there is help once someone realizes they are in over their heads. We need to help them..but my patience grows thin with the frequent flyers.

    • No Sympathy Here

      Amen! Same here. I took the prescription after surgery and that was it. Still have a little pain? Deal with it and take Motrin or Tylenol. It will go away.
      It’s a conscious decision to begin illegally using drugs.

  • Sad times

    Hmmm, why did this ALL seem to happen in the once good County in the 70’s and 80’s till the Philly Express arrived ? I think it is quite easy to answer this question

    • Sad times

      Correction, why did this stuff NOT happen in this once nice County back in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s till the past Mayors in my opinion let, brokered, encouraged the Philly Express to influx the area ?

  • Coach0

    very sad— people need better hobbies in nepa. High school sports and. Voulenteer firefighting seem popular.

  • bob franko

    I would like to know why law abiding tax payer dollars are involved with this . Millions 0f dollars could be going to the people that actually pay tax’s… new roads dugh….. gas tax dugh… I just don’t think this should be a tax payer problem due to the fact that it is a user choice problem , don’t want to hear opiod induced by doctors , full of crap . not all if any were addicted by doctors, biggest line of bull I have ever heard.

      • Joseph OS Mariano

        Do you have any kids ? I hope if you have any they never get hooked on the drugs so many doctors have gave out for a free vacation and dinners . And if you say how do you know because I owned a restaurant and gave many meals when doctors ordered and the drug reps pay the cost. I hate drugs I don’t even drink but my girlfriend lost her son when he was 30 years and she even tried to put him in jail and nothing worked . And do you know how he got started he was hurt in a car accident and the doctor gave him a prescription of oxy and a pain patch and the next day they found him dead. This can happen to anybody young and old, father, mother, daughter, son anybody. You may have been lucky in life so far I just hope they never hook you after an injury or surgery .

      • a choice

        Joseph- Heroin/opiates are a choice. I’ve had opiates after surgery and left it at that. I woke up this morning and I CHOSE not to do heroin. Guess what? Yup, that’s right, 12 hours later and I’m still heroin free. Pretty neato how that works huh? Mother Nature thins out the weak one’s in mysterious ways.

      • Joseph OS Mariano

        Mr. Mccracken , So you think your Father and Mother are old people ? How old are you ? I guess you think as you age you will miss old age, boy let me know how you make out with that. Did you feel the same way about your parents or grandparents ? I wish I was with you when you hit that old age or maybe you won’t …. I drove ambulance years ago and when it was a person last ride and you knew they are not going to make it was sad . People say all the time I don’t care if I die really talk to that poor person on his last ride. People don’t want to get old but that’s a fact of life . Why don’t you bitch about sending money to wars we cannot win or money that Washington waste the last twenty years . At least most old people pay their dues with hard work and sweat so if they need help now is better off to help them than people who hate and want war .

      • seen it all

        I know too many old people who pay extreme taxes because they make more than you can dream of in their 90’s , Please be educated when you comment , or is the heroin affecting your judgment ?

      • McCracken

        I made $75k, at 24. Believe me, I am educated. My original comment was satire aimed at the “let them die” crowd. How many people do we support, via Medicaid, who smoke or have type 2 diabetes? It’s no different than using heroin; self-inflicted harm.

    • John Alnort

      Thanks former mayor Jesse Bloom you sure ruined Williamsport! NARCON – stealing gods work and should be outlawed

    • Outta there

      Yup….. glad a got out of the area when I did. Really turned into a mess when the big city people migrated to there. Used to be very little trouble but now it’s nothing but trouble.

      • brad

        Yup, the good ole days of the ’80’s Williamsport was safe and fun. Visited friends that attended WACC. We’d go to “The Factory.” Partied hard but did it responsibly without shooting up the block.

      • BluEmu

        Outta There, spot-on. I have to travel to Wmspt on occasion, and it is a fearful event when I do.

        Speaking of partying in the factory, that gang member that was shot there was from Philly and most of these transplants bring nothing but ruination with them.

        How did this happen? Can’t we ship them all back to Philly or, even better, Camden, NJ?! A once wonderful city is now a war-zone. First Fridays? Who wants to risk their lives in Downtown Williamsport on ANY Friday?

      • Bill K

        We thought it was bad when the philly express first landed. Those were halcyon days compared to now. It got REALLY bad when thugs with tattoos up their necks started arriving. THAT was when the downfall dropped off the charts.

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