EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio — The 4-year-old boy seen in a viral photo sitting in the backseat of an SUV while two adults overdosed in the front has a new home.
The photo was shared by East Liverpool police and quickly went viral. The adults pictured were his grandmother and one of her friends.
The boy’s great grandmother tells Fox 8 that the boy is set to go live with his great-aunt and great-uncle in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, while the grandmother, 50-year-old Rhonda Pasek, awaits trial on child endangerment and public intoxication charges.
Police initially posted the photos on their Facebook Page Thursday after responding to a call of an incapacitated driver.
They were hoping the photos would send a message to drug users to think twice before abusing drugs:
“We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug. We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess. This child can’t speak for himself but we are hopeful his story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody,” wrote the city of East Liverpool, Ohio.
“We are well aware that some may be offended by these images and for that we are truly sorry, but it is time that the non drug using public sees what we are now dealing with on a daily basis,” the post continued. “The poison known as heroin has taken a strong grip on many communities not just ours, the difference is we are willing to fight this problem until it’s gone and if that means we offend a few people along the way we are prepared to deal with that.”
Brian Allen, the City of Liverpool’s director of public services and safety, backed posting the photos, saying heroin abuse is a national problem and the public needs to see its effects.
Police were first alerted to the vehicle when an officer saw a Ford Explorer driving erratically and then slamming on the brakes as it approached a stopped school bus that was dropping kids off, the police report states.
When the officer approached the driver, later identified as 47-year-old James Acord, his head was bobbing and his speech was almost unintelligible.
Acord told the officer he was taking his front seat passenger, Pasek, to the hospital.
The officer said he reached into the vehicle, turned it off and removed the keys just as Acord attempted to drive away.
That’s when the officer noticed a 4-year-old boy in the backseat.
The officer said Acord eventually passed out as well. EMS responded and administered Narcan, a drug used to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.
Acord is already serving 360 days in jail after he pleaded guilty no contest to a charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and endangering children.