HOPEWELL, Va. (WRIC) — Seven children under eight years old remain hospitalized after the oldest child shared his prescribed medication at a Hopewell home Wednesday evening.
Around 5 p.m. Wednesday, police said they responded to a call at a Hopewell residence off of 100 South 16th Avenue where they immediately found four children — a one-year-old, a two-year-old, a three-year-old and a four-year-old — lethargic and unresponsive, but breathing.
Jessica Sadler, a neighbor across the street, said she saw limp children being carried out of the house around 5 p.m. Wednesday.
“Next thing we know, they’re bringing out kids’ bodies in their arms,” Sadler said. “They was just out of it and slumped over, they were wearing no clothes, they had pull-ups on, I only seen two of the kids dressed.”
“You hear cries, like children crying because they’re scared, they don’t know what’s going on,” Sadler added.
A total of seven children were taken to John Randolph Medical Center. Five of the children were then moved to Chippenham Hospital, and two were moved to VCU Medical Center.
“It’s tragic in every way,” said Lt. Cheyenne Casale with Hopewell Police.
Hopewell Police said the children are all expected to recover after ingesting the prescription drugs. However, Pryor Green of Virginia HCA said that of all five of the children that went to Chippenham, were in serious condition — earlier in the day, three were in critical condition. VCUHealth chose not to release any information on the two children they are treating at this time.
According to Hopewell Police Lieutenant Cheyenne Casale, ventilators were used on the two youngest children at one point, and NARCAN was used on all seven children.
NARCAN is defined by the pharmaceutical company as, “a potentially lifesaving medication designed to help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose in minutes.”
Police said that the oldest child told them he went to take his prescribed medication and ended up sharing it with the other children.
According to police, the medication bottle recovered from the scene had a rubbed-off label. They said the mother of the house told them it was anti-anxiety medication.
The mother of four of the children left the house –where she was babysitting the additional three children for a friend– for a visit to a convenience store around the corner. The three additional children were dropped off by their mother earlier that night after a family emergency.
According to police, there were still adults in the house, a man and a woman. The mother of the four children admitted to police that she may not have clearly instructed the man to watch the children while she was away.
The man did not identify himself to police.
“We weren’t able to confirm his information,” Casale said. “They just called him Uncle Rob.”
Uncle Rob and two other men were initially handcuffed as police began their investigation Wednesday night, but were all later released.
At this time, no one has been charged.
8News spoke to a man Thursday, who did not identify himself, but who claimed to be the half-brother of the four children’s father and said he was in the house at the time of the incident. He said he went to the house that morning to keep an eye on his half-brother after learning his half-brother’s mother had died. He said his half-brother was upset and gave examples of him throwing things and punching walls.
The man said he called 911 when he discovered the children acting “drunk,” then he said he proceeded to try and get them to throw up with help from a woman who was in the house with him. He said authorities arrived within minutes.
According to Hopewell Police, the mother of the four children called Hopewell Fire and EMS when she realized the children, “weren’t acting right,” after she returned from the corner store.
Police said they got a call for a welfare check to the home four months ago to check on the children.
Casale said Hopewell Police is now working with Child Protective Services on this case.
This is a developing story. Check back with 8News for updates.