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Letters: Calling 911 to Report a Drug Overdose is Not a Crime in NJ, Thanks to Gov. Christie

On May 2, 2013 Governor Christie signed into law the Overdose Prevention Act.  New Jersey 6a00d8341bf7d953ef011570df48d6970c-800wihas become the 12th State to enact a Good Samaritan law for drug overdoses – Calling 911 to report a drug overdose is NOT a crime in New Jersey!!  This law will encourage people to call for help if someone overdoses, and expand access to an overdose antidote medication.


I lost my son Salvatore Marchese to an accidental overdose on September 23, 2010. Sal was not alone when he overdosed, but the person who was with him did not call 911 – most likely for fear of arrest.  Sal was in an overdose situation and was left to die.  I firmly believe if 911 were in place Sal would be with us today. 


Nothing is going to bring Sal back; I will carry him forever in my heart - I knew that I needed to do something to make a difference not only to honor Sal but to prevent future overdose deaths and spare other families the grief that mine has endured.  For this reason, I have been advocating with many other New Jersey parents for this legislation.


Today I am overjoyed and thankful to Governor Christie and our legislators for coming to a compromise on this legislation and making this happen.  From this day forward New Jersey will be saving lives with the Overdose Prevention Act.  The hard work of the Drug Policy Alliance and our family advocates has paid off and we did make a difference.


New Jersey will be sending a clear message that every life is precious and everyone does deserve a second chance – because calling 911 to report an overdose in New Jersey is NOT a crime. 


Thank you,

Patty DiRenzo

Blackwood, NJ