6.28.2012

Interesting Issue Here: Good Samaritan Protection Law


Friend's heroin overdose leads to charges against pair



Two 19-year-old men drove around the Sugarloaf valley for an hour Monday with an unresponsive friend who overdosed on heroin and needed medical attention, police said.
Kyle Andrew Yatsko of Roth Road, Drums, and Robert Nicholas Pupko III, of North Street, Kelayres, told Sugarloaf police they did not know what to do when their friend Ryan Kline passed out.
Yatsko and Pupko were charged Monday with recklessly endangering another person, a second-degree misdemeanor.
According to court documents, Pupko picked up Kline at his Sugarloaf home in Brookhill on Monday. A short time later, Kline passed out from an overdose. Pupko took Kline to Yatsko's home, where they tried unsuccessfully to revive him, police said. The teenagers took Kline to a creek near Walp Road to put water on his face in another attempt to revive him, but were again unsuccessful, they told police.
A person in the area of Walp Road called Luzerne County 911 around 1 p.m., stating two young men were dragging an unresponsive man from the woods, an affidavit of probable cause said.
When police arrived at Walp and Kisenweather roads, they saw a Jeep parked along the woods with Pupko in the driver's seat, Kline passed out in the front passenger seat and Yatsko in the rear passenger seat.
Kline was slumped over and appeared to be gasping for air, police said.
When police asked what was wrong with Kline, Pupko said, "Nothing. He is just sleeping," the affidavit states. Police said Kline was unresponsive, barely breathing and his face was turning blue.
Yatsko and Pupko told police they knew Kline was "dying" but did not call for help because they did not know what to do.
Sugarloaf Township Fire Chief Duane Hildebrand said an unresponsive Kline was treated at the scene by Sugarloaf Ambulance and transported to a helicopter landing zone near the Pilot Travel Center on state Route 93 in Sugarloaf. Kline was flown to an area trauma center. Information on Kline's condition and age were not available Monday night.
Police said Pupko displayed signs of driving while under the influence of a controlled substance and was given a field sobriety test, which he failed. He admitted to taking the prescriptions drug Xanax the night prior and smoking marijuana, the affidavit states. Pupko was taken to Hazleton General Hospital for a blood test for suspicion of driving under the influence of a controlled substance. Charges are pending against him for the suspected DUI offense, police said.
Yatsko and Pupko were arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Daniel O'Donnell at district court in Sugarloaf Township. Bail was set at $10,000 unsecured each, meaning they did not have to post money in order to be released to await preliminary hearings. Once bail was set, Sugarloaf police removed the handcuffs that shackled both men's hands during the preliminary arraignment. Among the conditions for bail, neither man may contact the victim and both must attend all scheduled court appearances. If they disregard the conditions, the men could be remanded to prison and be ordered to pay the $10,000 bail, O'Donnell said.
Representing the men at arraignment, attorney James Scallion asked the judge for unsecured bail because, he said, both are young and, because of their inexperience, made a "poor choice." Neither are "hardened criminals," Scallion said.
achristman@standardspeaker.com