A neighbor who heard two young brothers, ages 1 and 4, screaming for help from the window of their Upper Darby home Wednesday called police, who arrived to find that the boys’ parents had both overdosed on heroin in the bathroom of their house, police said.
The overdoses were just two of five that occurred Wednesday in the township of 82,000 people, according to Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood. From a Wawa store and a coin-laundry bathroom to a gas station pump and a residence, Upper Darby police spent Wednesday administering the anti-opioid drug Narcan, ferrying heroin users to hospitals, and responding to children’s cries for help for their parents.
“The heroin problem is only getting worse,” Chitwood said. “It’s so far out of control that it seems like nothing can be done. I don’t know what the answer is.”
Police were called to the 7000 block of Greenwood Avenue, near Church Lane, around 8 p.m. Wednesday for reports of two children screaming for help. The first responding officer was greeted at the door by the boys, police said.
“Mommy and Daddy are up in the bathroom and they are sick,” the older child told police, according to Chitwood.
When the officer went upstairs, he was unable to open the bathroom door, police said. He got it open a crack and saw that the father, Sean Dolhancryk, 32, was slumped against the door. Sandra Dicianno, 31, was unconscious on the floor near the toilet, Chitwood said.
“Who knows how long they were passed out,” he said.
As the officer tried to get into the bathroom, the children held onto his leg and sobbed, according to Chitwood.
When backup arrived, police were able to force the door open and found three empty bags of heroin, seven full bags, two hypodermic needles, and a bent spoon, authorities said.
The couple were taken to a hospital for treatment before being released into police custody. Both are expected to be charged with possession of a controlled substance, endangering the welfare of children, recklessly endangering another person, and related offenses, Chitwood said.
The children were first placed into the custody of Delaware County Children and Youth Services and then given to a relative for care, according to police.
“This is a perfect example of how the heroin epidemic destroys the family structure,” Chitwood said. “For them to have to grow up and see this is tragic. These kids don’t stand a chance in that type of environment.”
Chitwood said that while his officers have administered Narcan more than 230 times since 2016, his township has never experienced five overdoses in a single day.
“The heroin we’re seeing is either 100 percent fentanyl or cut with fentanyl now,” he said.
Chitwood said he believes too many of the drug dealers his department has locked up are getting lenient sentences.
“These people are selling death, and they get slaps on the wrists,” he said. “They need to start whacking them.”