Rebecca Cooper has a good samaritan and a pothole to thank for saving not only her life, but also the life of her three year old son. Lucky for her, Edwin Gates happened to be at the right place at the right time when he pull up behind her van after picking up some supplies he needed to put “some brakes on a church member’s car.” It’s safe to say his trip to the auto parts store that left him “shocked” will be one he remembers forever.
Cooper was found unconscious in her van last weekend when she celebrated her birthday by overdosing on heroin while driving through a Cincinnati AutoZone parking lot with her little boy trapped shivering and helpless in the cold backseat, dressed only in a pair of pants and shoes.
Unconscious and In Drive
The van was idling when Gates pulled up behind it waiting to go about his day. There was one problem, though. The van didn’t make any attempts to drive forward once traffic had cleared nor did it budge when he honked his horn to get the driver’s attention. Sensing something wasn’t quite right, Gates pulled his car alongside of van where he was shocked to see Cooper slumped over in her seat. Wasting no time, he told his friend to call 911 while he hopped out of his car to better assess the situation.
“It kind of scared me because I didn’t know – ‘Did the person have a heart attack?’ I didn’t know what was going on. When I saw her, I had my friend dial 911. I checked for a pulse and she had a real low pulse. I put the vehicle in park and turned the ignition off and when I looked back I saw the kid in the back seat. We grabbed the kid and put a coat on the kid because he didn’t have a shirt or coat – nothing but pants and shoes on. A little boy…,” said Gates when recounting his act of bravery.
Things could have very easily ended tragically for Cooper and her young son if Gates hadn’t shown up when he did. The van was in drive and neither of her feet were on the gas pedal nor the brake when he opened the door to check on her. The only thing stopping the van from heading into oncoming traffic was a lone pothole that “had her tire, had the van held. The passenger-side tire was down in the pothole.”
Paramedics arrived in the time to revive Cooper with the opioid overdose reversal drug, Narcan. She was later arrested for possession, operating a vehicle while impaired and child endangerment. Cooper celebrated the rest of her 27th birthday in a Cincinnati jail cell, which is far better than the alternative.
She now joins 148 heroin users who were arrested for operating a vehicle while impaired in the past year thanks to the pace at which heroin is spreading through Cincinnati like a plague raging out of control.
AutoZone employee, Geno Calloway spoke to a local news station about this very issue, saying “It’s just gotten so bad, the heroin problem is just awful. People need to know how bad it’s gotten and we need to do something.”
The judge took it surprisingly easy on Cooper when she made her first appearance in court on Monday where her bond was set at $5,000 for charges of child endangerment and drug possession. She is required to pay 10% of her bond before she is released from jail. The judge also ordered Cooper to stay away from her son for an unspecified amount of time. A somber and red eyed Cooper muttered a quiet, “thank you, Judge” before turning to leave the courtroom and return to jail.
This is the second time in three years that the young mother has put the life of one of her children in danger. Cooper crashed her car on the highway with her 5 year-old in the backseat. Amazingly both survived and sustained only minor injuries.
Cooper has battled her heroin dependency for many years, but had seemingly rebounded well for the almost two years she was clean, according to her father. Unfortunately, her old habits were too hard to kick when some old friends who were still circling the drain of drug abuse came around with her drug of choice. The easy access to heroin made it too hard to keep a firm grip on her sobriety and led Cooper to lose her footing on the slipper slope of addiction. Perhaps this time will serve as a wake up call for her and she’ll receive the help she needs at one of the rehabs her father is looking into.