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Oregon mother warns about drugs disguised as candy after near-tragedy

Howell said when she came home she saw her two sons and one grandson unresponsive on the couch and floor.

Posted: Oct 21, 2019 12:05 PM
Updated: Oct 21, 2019 12:22 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Eugene Police said they responded to calls late Saturday morning about three young boys who were unconscious in a home off 22nd Avenue in Eugene.

Heidi Howell said she came home around 11 a.m. to find her 10 and 9-year-old sons and her 6-year-old grandson unresponsive. She said she had no idea what was wrong and that it was worse than she could have ever expected.

Nearby was a Pez candy dispenser and what looked like candy. Howell said she later found out it wasn't candy at all.

One neighbor across the street, Heidi Enebrand, saw first responders and assumed something was wrong with the parents.

"My hope was to come over and maybe help bring the kids over here, thinking I could offer them support when it was them that was in trouble," she said.

Howell said that when she saw her boys laying around unresponsive she thought they were playing a prank on her — but it was no joke. She recalled that the reality was a thing of nightmares.

She said the pills were actually drugs from her daughter, a woman Howell described as a transient, who was overdosed in the bathroom. Howell currently has custody of all three boys and said her daughter comes and goes uninvited.

Howell said the boys were transported to Riverbend Hospital and the 10-year-old and 6-year-old were life flighted to OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland.

Howell said hospital tests confirmed there were Benzodiazepines in all three boys' blood. "Benzos" are usually prescribed to adults for treatment of acute anxiety or insomnia, but the drugs have the potential for abuse — often in combination with other drugs.

Howell says that this close to Halloween she wants parents be extra careful when it comes to their kids accepting candy from strangers. Eugene Police and the Department of Human Services are currently investigating the case.

Reporters reached out to DHS, but they said confidentiality laws prohibit them from sharing information about specific cases.

Howell said that while this has rocked her to the core, she's just glad her boys are OK.

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