Page 3 of 7
Two days earlier, she and some friends had gone to a bar in Atlanta. She broke away from them, to use the bathroom. After 20 minutes went by, her friends went looking for her.
As it turned out, Bridget had nodded off in the bathroom. The needle she'd shot up with was still clinging to her arm. The remainder of her heroin stash was tucked in her purse.
Paramedics worked to revive the 24-year-old woman with golden highlights in her wavy hair and a tattoo of a small, pink flower on her ankle. At the hospital, she even regained a pulse. She managed to hang on for two days. But on Friday, April 4, the overdose got the better of her.
Eerily, her MySpace page, which she'd last logged onto a few days earlier, hinted at her impending, accidental death: "I'm starting to feel alone and betrayed," she wrote, "somebody help before I waist [sic] away."
Bridget didn't know Lisa, but they shared a similar fate.
Twenty-one years old and with a taste for the macabre, Lisa wore black polish on her toenails and slender silver barbells in her nose, lip and navel. A tattoo of a jack-o-lantern ringed by red hearts grinned up from her back. As with Bridget, Lisa had been drawn to heroin, and paramedics were called to revive her following an overdose. They hooked her up to an EKG machine to restart her heart. They ran a tube down her throat to open up her airway. But in the end, the dose was too much.
Five days after Bridget, heroin killed Lisa, too.
Outside their circle of friends and family, Bridget's and Lisa's deaths went largely unnoticed. That wouldn't be the case two days later, when a 21-year-old Georgia Tech pitcher died in bed at his Northside Drive apartment. Michael Hutts' death was ruled to have been the result of a heroin overdose – a story that made the pages of the Washington Post and USA Today.
Within a week of Hutts' overdose, another Atlanta death made headlines. Sean Costello, a renowned bluesman and guitar prodigy, was found dead in a Cheshire Bridge hotel room the day before his 29th birthday. His death was later attributed to a mix of heroin and prescription drugs.
In the space of 12 days in Atlanta, heroin had cut across social circles to take the lives of four people, all of them in their 20s. The deaths came at a pace the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office previously hadn't seen. And the victims were of a younger demographic. By comparison, over the previous four months only four heroin deaths, total, were recorded in Fulton County. Only one of the deceased was younger than 30.
"I don't know if there's more heroin being used or whether it's becoming more potent or what the deal is," says Fulton medical examiner Geoffrey Smith. Smith conducted three of the four autopsies and explains that, because his office only sees the worst cases ("the tip of the iceberg," he calls it), it's hard to tell whether the deaths are indicative of a trend or a mere anomaly.
"It seems to be cutting across a spectrum of young people," Smith points out. "Is heroin making a comeback? Who knows."
Amy grew up in Gwinnett County, the daughter of an ex-military man. Her plan was to go to nursing school. Aside from a wild couple of years in her early teens, she considered herself a good kid. She played by the rules. She appreciated the highly organized structure of her life -- at least for a while.
"I had been the responsible child for so long," she says. "I had my head on right. Everything was going according to my plan. It just got old. I wanted to try something different."
She was 20 and in her second year of college, working at a local bar to help cover her expenses, when she fell for one of her co-workers. He was Eastern European, dark and mysterious. After dating for a month, they moved in together.
She quickly jumped into using coke and meth with him. She didn't think it was a big deal. She'd tried coke before, in high school, and both drugs were pretty well-circulated among her friends and co-workers.
Most people she knew, herself included, had drawn the line at heroin.
"Heroin was something that I thought that only bums on the street corner used," she says. "I never thought that somebody like me, who came from the family that I came from, an educated person, would do that."
Then her boyfriend's coke and meth connection dried up. He was having a hard time tracking down a replacement. So he opted to get some heroin instead. He'd used the drug before, and he knew he only had to drive down to the Bluff to score. But he didn't want to do it alone.
Hopefully he has enough sense not to repeat the TSPLOST debacle.
@ Mark from Atlanta "Call me crazy, but I really don't think the U.S. Navy…
"wringing his hands in indecision, paralyzed by over-analysis." __________________________________________________ Call me crazy, but I really…
"After four years of malaise, Reagan helped turn around the U.S. economy." _____________________________________________________________ Reagan: Through…
@ Mark from Atlanta "That has historically been the case that women and children, because…