Snorted heroin, pneumonia killed 20-year-old man, Westminster police say

He was found dead at home by his mother

April 13, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A 20-year-old Westminster man died last month of narcotic intoxication -- snorted heroin -- complicated by bronchial pneumonia, Westminster police said yesterday.

Michael E. DePinto was found by his mother about 7 p.m. March 16 at the apartment he shared with his parents in the first block of Westmoreland St. His parents had been in West Virginia and were snowed in, delaying their return, said police Capt. Dean A. Brewer.

Police received the final toxicology reports on DePinto's death yesterday.

The man's death coincided with the opening last month in Baltimore of a three-day conference sponsored by the National Drug Intelligence Center, where speakers said heroin is no longer the drug of choice of a small group of older users confined to the inner cities.

Suburbanites ages 12 to 25 have become the fastest growing group of users, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said at the conference.

Since January 1998 in Carroll County, when 15-year-old Liam O'Hara of Westminster was found dead in bed at home of heroin intoxication, emergency room doctors have treated an average of 13 patients a month for heroin-related overdoses, said Daphne Swancutt, a Carroll County General Hospital spokeswoman, citing monthly statistics reported by the hospital.

"We've been lucky not to have another [youngster's] death in more than a year," said Lt. Terry Katz, commander at the Westminster barracks of the Maryland State Police.

"This latest death needs to serve as a wake-up call. Since we have had a lot of drug forums and heroin awareness programs [in Carroll County] within the last year, a lot of people believe we have won the battle over heroin," Katz said.

"We may have won some battles, but not the war."

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