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Three Harford young adults die of suspected heroin overdoses in two days

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Three young adults in Harford County died of heroin overdoses within two days earlier this week, the Harford County Sheriff's Office said.

One couple was found dead in Fallston on Tuesday, and a young woman also died Wednesday in Bel Air.

Alyssa Whelan, 19, and John Deckelman, 20, were pronounced dead by a medical examiner at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Mr. Deckelman's house in the 100 block of Fallston Meadow Court.

Ms. Whelan lived in the 200 block of Drexel Drive in Bel Air.

They were found dead in bed together by Mr. Deckelman's father, sheriff's office spokeswoman Monica Worrell said Thursday.

At 5 a.m. Wednesday, Jaime Lidlow, 19, of the 1100 block of Royston Place in Bel Air, was found dead in a home in the 1300 block of Roman Ridge Drive in Hickory Overlook north of Bel Air.

Ms. Lidlow was found unresponsive on a couch by the homeowner, whose home Ms. Lidlow was visiting and who was not related to her, Worrell said. Ms. Lidlow was pronounced dead at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air.

Foul play is not suspected in any of the three deaths, Worrell said.

Heroin is believed to be the cause of death but the Sheriff's Office is still awaiting chemical test results, she said.

"[The incidents] do not appear to be connected other than all individuals had past substance abuse incidents," Worrell said.

Worrell also said the Sheriff's Office does not suspect a bad batch of heroin.

Ms. Whelan graduated from North Harford High School in 2010 and worked at Sally Beauty Supply, according to her Facebook profile.

She liked a book called "Marijuana Is Safer," promoting marijuana legalization, according to the profile.

A visitation for Ms. Whelan is scheduled for 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30., at Forest Hill's Evans Funeral Chapel, and a memorial service at 8 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be made to Addiction Resources Community Center in Churchville, according to an obituary from the funeral home.

Joe Ryan, the county's drug control policy manager, said he could not give more details on these incidents because they are being handled by the sheriff's office.

He did say heroin is not the main drug problem for Harford, although in the mid to late 1990s law enforcement and health officials in the county believed heroin use by people in their mid to late teens and early 20s had reached epidemic proportions.

"Prescription drugs are the front runner for people overdosing and dying," Ryan said.

Nevertheless, Ryan also noted heroin has a 3 percent recovery rate, meaning only 3 percent of those who try heroin nationwide are successful in quitting.

"We are always dealing with the overdose deaths, and I am sure this time of year, with folks coming home for the holidays and all the pressures of the holidays, it increases the chances of relapse," he said.

"When you start using heroin, it usually doesn't have a happy ending," Ryan continued, adding he was not surprised the three people who died this week were young.

"There is pretty much no such thing as an old heroin addict, because they don't usually live that long," he said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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