( 4UMF NEWS ) 22 People Hospitalized For K2 Overdoses:
A bad batch of K2 made the streets of Brooklyn look like the site of a zombie apocalypse Tuesday morning, as zonked-out users shambled and collapsed on the streets of Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant and 22 people were hospitalized.
“It was like a scene out of ‘The Walking Dead.’ They were zombied out,” said Brian Arthur, 38, who grew up in Bed-Stuy.
The rash of hospitalizations began after someone called 911 to report people with “altered mental status” on Stockton St. near Myrtle Ave. in Bed-Stuy around 9:40 a.m., officials said.
Firefighters, cops and paramedics responded and found 22 semi-conscious people in several locations there and in nearby Bushwick. Sources said it was likely caused by ingestion of K2, a type of synthetic marijuana.
“It was a horrible scene,” Arthur said. “They were laid out twitching on the floor. Some of them were motionless. This is nothing you’d want your kids to see.”
One woman who was being tended to by a cop was barely conscious, with her eyes rolled back in her head. A man laid curled up on the sidewalk vomiting with his pants pulled down. Another man looked like he was sleep-walking as cops tried to coax him into an ambulance.
Little packages bearing the street names of the drug — including “White Tiger” and “Dank” — were strewn on the ground. The patients were taken to Woodhull Hospital and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center. An ambulance that was transporting one of the patients was flagged down at Marcus Garvey Blvd. and Myrtle Ave. to deal with another patient who was said to be combative.
Chris Yadron, executive director of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, said the rash of hospitalizations was likely caused by a bad batch of the drug.
“If that many people are going to the hospital, it’s probably pretty indicative of something pretty toxic,” he said.
The drug has afflicted the area in recent years, with addicts getting high and lolling along the sidewalks, neighbors and workers said.
Desperate residents have posted signs, reading “No Smoking K2,” around the area.
Jimmy Bravo, 28, a clerk at a bodega at Broadway and Stockton St., said he saw an ambulance take some of the overdosing people.
“Ambulances pick them up night and day, 24 hours,” he said. “Cops see them, but they don’t do nothing.”
He added that addicts sometimes have sex on the sidewalk.
“They don’t care,” he said. “They do it right in front of kids.”
One of the hubs for trouble, residents said, is a rehab center on Myrtle Ave. and Broadway.
“If it wasn’t around they wouldn’t be out here,” Henry Lopez, 35, who works at a hardware store across the street, said of the rehab center. “There’s always a lot of stuff going on out here. Two or three people have gotten stabbed. They rob delivery people at night, break windows. It’s really dangerous at night.”
In response to questions about enforcement Tuesday, the NYPD pointed to several major seizures of the drug, but would not provide the number of summonses issued.
It said cops have been issuing summonses and making arrests.
“Additionally, there has been targeted enforcement in the area that has resulted in multiple arrests and seizures of K2,” the NYPD said.
The city Health Department said it had recorded a spike in K2-related emergency room visits, and was watching ERs across the city. “We remind New Yorkers that K2 is extremely dangerous,” the agency said.
Mayor de Blasio signed a bill in October making it a crime to sell or produce K2, punishable by up to a year in jail and fines totaling $55,000.
“K2 is a poison,” de Blasio said then. “It is a poison that threatens public safety and public health, and it’s taken a toll on too many New Yorkers.”
The number of hospitalizations tied to the drug, also known as synthetic marijuana, peaked at 1,200 in July 2015 — nearly 40 a day — but dropped to 178 in March.
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