Thinking her "daddy" was dead, a 5-year-old girl called Upper Darby police last night, who responded to her home and determined her father had passed out from a heroin overdose.
"A 5-year-old daughter witnessing her father overdosing on drugs - that's something she'll remember forever," said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood.
Around 9:30 p.m., the girl called 911 and said her "daddy" had fallen off of a chair in the basement, had blood on his eye and she couldn't wake him up. Police said when they arrived at the house on Vernon Road, it was the little girl who let them in the door and led them to her father, Jason Feranti, 31.
Police were able to shake Feranti awake and on a desk nearby they found two syringes, a bent spoon, a cotton ball, numerous torn plastic baggies and blue wax paper, all of which are items used to inject heroin, Chitwood said.
"He had been shooting up and passed out in front of her," Chitwood said. "There's no conscience, there's no sense of responsibility and there's certainly no common sense."
Feranti was charged with endangering the welfare of a child, recklessly endangering another person and drug offenses. He remains at the Delaware County Prison, according to police.
The girl was placed in the custody of her grandmother and Delaware County Children and Youth Services was notified on the incident, Chitwood said.
"The sad thing is it just goes to show you the scourge of heroin abuse. They don't care," he said. "What the hell happens if she gets a hold of the needle or swallows something?"
Chitwood said last night's incident is emblematic of a much bigger problem in Upper Darby. Just last May, a 4-year-old boy who was found wandering alone and sobbing in the 69th Street Terminal led police to his dad, who had passed out from a heroin overdose in a terminal bathroom.
Between Jan. 1, 2011 and May 3 of this year, there have been 19 overdose deaths in Upper Darby, 14 of which were directly related to heroin and the rest of which can be attributed to pills and other drugs. In the same time period, there were 101 overdose cases in which victims survived, 66 of which were directly related to heroin, police said.
"The heroin problem is epidemic out here and it leads to other crimes," Chitwood said. "When we catch burglars and debrief them it's heroin addicts who are doing the reaping and pillaging."