Strangers save man overdosing in van in Elizabeth City, emergency services says

Posted at 4:19 PM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 12:19:04-05

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. - The actions of a complete stranger potentially saved a man's life in Elizabeth City.

On Wednesday, February 19, the Elizabeth City Police Department, Pasquotank-Camden EMS, the Elizabeth City Fire Department and other agencies responded to the Food Lion at 1805 Weeksville Road for a possible overdose with children in the car.

According to an incident report from emergency services, the van he was driving started rolling as the children, ages four months and two years, were in the back seat.

A Good Samaritan nearby saw what was happening and "broke open the drivers side window with her hand." The report goes on to say that the bystander opened the door to stop the van from rolling, pulled the driver out and started CPR when she thought he wasn't breathing.

"When you're talking about seconds and minutes getting to CPR, it's crucial," Chief Jerry Newell with Pasquotank-Camden EMS says.

When ECPD arrived, they used 4 mg of Narcan. They say he started to breathe better and had a pulse, but he was unresponsive when officers arrived.

During the police investigation, a white substance was found inside the vehicle along with the two young children.

"Who knows what tragic event could have occurred from a free-rolling van in a grocery store parking lot," Newell says.

The driver, Joshua Harris, was arrested and charged with Misdemeanor Child Abuse.

The 35-year-old was processed, brought before the magistrate, given a $1,000.00 secured bond and transported to Albemarle District Jail.

Harris has posted bond and his first court appearance is April 6 at 9:30 a.m. in Pasquotank County. Child Protective Services were also on scene.

Newell says his department responds to an average of six to eight overdoses each month. He reports that since January 1, 2020, they have administered Narcan for 11 overdoses and taken 15 opioid-related calls.

He encourages everyone to learn CPR, understand how to access Narcan and keep the conversation open.