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Couple charged with child neglect

Sep. 25, 2013 @ 10:27 PM

HUNTINGTON — Cpl. Gary Queen calls it “pitiful,” referring to Tuesday’s sight of a man and woman passed out from apparent drug use with uncapped, hypodermic needles in their lap and their 3-year-old daughter crying in the backseat.

 Indications are it marks just another example of the region’s ever increasing battle with heroin abuse, as those addicted to prescription pills switch to a cheaper but far deadlier drug to stave off withdrawal.

Tuesday’s incident involved the arrests of Putnam County residents Jeremy Michael Dickey and Samantha Jo Phillips, but it also led to an ambulance crash as paramedics rushing to the scene collided with another vehicle about 3 p.m. Tuesday, according to Queen and court records.

Queen explained the apparent overdose and subsequent ambulance crash are separate, unrelated incidents, although he said those abusing drugs Tuesday “set the wheels into motion.”

 Dickey, 37, and Phillips, 22, both of Fraziers Bottom, W.Va., were charged with felony child neglect. Each was detained at the Western Regional Jail on a $50,000 bond.

 The girl, who shares Dickey’s last name, was taken into custody by Child Protective Services and later turned over to a grandmother sharing Phillps’ last name, according to a criminal complaint filed in Cabell County Magistrate Court.

 “It’s pitiful,” Queen said Wednesday. “That’s what it is. Somebody’s got an addiction that strong – it takes over their life. … That’s all they think about, and you’ve got a child involved.”

 Dispatchers received word of the apparent overdose at 2:35 p.m. Tuesday. The couple’s vehicle was parked at a car wash in Huntington’s 1700 block of 8th Avenue.

 The responding officer found both defendants passed out, Dickey sitting behind the steering wheel and Phillips to his side, according to the criminal complaints.

 The documents further state both suspects had uncapped needles lying in their laps. Dickey also had a spoon with residue and a bag of capped needles under his leg.

 Just behind them, in a car seat, was the crying toddler. The responding unit had to physically shake both of the suspects awake, the complaints state.

 Police also found an over-the-counter pill bottle filled with somebody else’s urine, which both suspects told police they used to pass drug tests at a nearby methadone clinic.

 Queen mentioned heroin as the drug likely involved in Tuesday’s incident, however he said additional tests would be needed to confirm its role.

 The corporal also said it is unlikely that either suspect would face charges related to the subsequent ambulance crash, which occurred in the 2500 block of 3rd Avenue. Both vehicles were totaled, and injuries were described as non-life threatening.

 Follow Curtis Johnson at Facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD and via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD.

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