Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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Good Samaritan law aims to protect overdose victims

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Good Samaritan law aims to protect overdose victims
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The Cayuga County District Attorney says many people are too afraid to report drug overdoses. But under the Good Samaritan Law, people can save someone's life and avoid prosecution. The family of an Auburn woman, who died after overdosing on heroin last year, is helping him get the word out. Iris St. Meran has their story.

AUBURN, N.Y. -- Suzanne Corey, remembers her niece Jessica Gentile, fondly. Thursday marks, one year since the 25-year-old died of a heroin overdose. She says it could have been avoided.

"And we believe firmly, that's the message our family wants to get out that if Matt Malenick had called for Jessica and not waited for 3 1/2 hours, she very well could've been alive," said Gentile.

Police previously said Malenick supplied heroin to Gentile and lied to cover up the fact drugs were being used. Corey says they don't know why he didn't immediately call for help. Now she wants others to know about the Good Samaritan Law, which could help people in a similar situation.

Under the law anyone who calls seeking medical attention for themselves or someone suffering from a drug overdose, will be immune from prosecution. District Attorney Jon Budelmann says he initially had reservations about it, but now is urging people to abide by it.

"It's what called affirmative defense. If someone did call in good faith and somehow they got arrested they can then say I called, they don't have to give their name, but please call as soon as you can because every moment counts," Jon Budelmann, Cayuga County District Attorney.

Corey says wondering what Gentile's last moments were like is what haunts her family.

Corey asked, "What was she going through that morning? Was she aware that she was dying?"

These are questions she'll never get answers to. But by sharing her family's anguish she hopes others won't have a reason to ask.

Last week Matthew Malenick was sentenced to five years in prison and two years post-release supervision for criminal sale of a controlled substance. He was also sentenced for falsely reporting an incident.

Tuesday, Joseph Ferrara who is accused of selling the heroin to Malenick will be sentenced. Thursday the family will gather to have a memorial for Jessica Gentile.

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