Five men overdosed on opioids on a park bench in Canada — and local cops are under fire for mistakenly thinking they were merely sleeping drunks, according to a report.
Four of the men were hospitalized in serious condition after authorities finally realized they were barely breathing and revived them with naloxone, the Vancouver Sun said.
The incident reportedly unfolded near the English Bay beach in Vancouver, where the men, in their 20s, sat slumped together Sunday morning.
A witness, David Johnson, said a cop approached the group around 7:30 a.m.
“I didn’t see him checking vital signs or talking on a radio … and then he was gone,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he snapped a photo of the men and showed it to two other cops nearby, one of whom he said “looked at it and chuckled” as the other “walked away.”
“What kind of training do they have? You think they would be concerned and go over there and check it out,” he fumed.
Around 10:30 a.m., someone flagged down a cop who “checked on the men and found that they were overdosing, with shallow or no breathing, so he began first aid,” Vancouver police spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison said.
“Other police officers soon arrived and administered naloxone, which began to bring some of the men back to consciousness,” he said.
Six paramedic crews responded to the scene and four of the men were taken to the hospital in serious but stable condition, British Columbia Emergency Health Services spokesperson Sarah Morris said.
Addison defended the cops who didn’t take action earlier.
“Passersby thought they’d only been drinking, so nobody was alarmed,” he said of the men on the bench.
“They were snoring, there was no obvious drug paraphernalia and they did not appear to be in medical distress at the time.”
British Columbia is in its fifth year of a public health emergency involving drug overdoses — many caused by the synthetic opioid fentanyl — that have killed more than 7,000 people.
There were 680 suspected fatal overdoses during the first four months of 2021, putting the province on track to smash last year’s record of 1,726 drug deaths.