Washington County woman reminds locals of Good Samaritan law

Photo Provided Lenora Lada appears in this photo with her son Trey Moats.

MARIETTA — The house on Muskingum Drive was hard to find in the dark.

When Lenora Lada finally arrived, she found her son on the ground, his pockets turned out.

Trey Moats died later at Marietta Memorial Hospital. He was 26 years old, killed, his mother thought, by an unintentional overdose of Ativan, an antidepressant. He was less than half a mile from medical help that might have saved his life, and his mother wants to make sure that anyone who doesn’t know about the state’s Good Samaritan law learns about it in time to prevent another death like Trey’s.

Lenora had been awakened at 3:26 a.m. Nov. 30 by a phone call from an acquaintance of Trey’s, who told her Trey was in trouble and she needed to get to an address on Muskingum Drive right away. She dressed and drove into Marietta from her home in Devola. The address, she said, wasn’t displayed on the house and it was difficult to find. At 3:44 a.m. she received a text originating from Trey’s cellphone number, asking her where she was.

At 3:50 a.m., Lenora said, she found the house, found Trey and called 911. At 4:05 a.m. sheriff’s deputies arrived and began administering Narcan, apparently not realizing that Trey was not suffering from a heroin overdose.

Photo by Michael Kelly Lenora Lada looks at pictures of her son, Trey Moats, on Monday, more than a month after he died from an overdose after a group of companions decided to take him to a private home rather than a hospital.

“They gave him seven doses of Narcan when they could have been giving him CPR,” Lada said. At 51 years old, she has been a medical professional for years and now oversees the medical technology program at the Washington County Career Center.

Trey was pronounced dead the next day at Marietta Memorial Hospital.

Over a cup of coffee in the kitchen of her Devola house on Monday, Lenora recalled Trey’s life. He was a good son who loved his mother and was devoted to his friends, she said. She also spoke of his death, which she said was senseless, avoidable and inhumane.

Trey Moats was born Jan. 19, 1991, and would have been 27 years old a week from Friday. He was a Marietta High School graduate — an average student, his mother said, who didn’t have any trouble — and a staunch friend for anyone he liked, a devoted son and a straight shooter with a dislike for gossip.

“He hated social media,” Lenora said.

He got a job with Vadakin Inc., a good-paying position that allowed him to travel out of town, ski and enjoy himself, The job fit well with his increasing interest in mechanics, Lenora said. He had a passion for “anything with wheels, 4-wheelers, motorcycles … there’s a truck that he was working on, and he had a new motorcycle that he’d only made one payment on.”

Trey also had a challenge with alcohol, and when he was 20 was involved in a drunk driving wreck that marked a turning point in his life.

“They took his license, so he drove sometimes without it,” she said. “It was under suspension for five years, and his job fell apart when he lost it.”

“That’s what started this spiral. He just had anxiety issues, and that wreck was the downfall of everything,” she said.

Lenora Lada has purchased a billboard to bear the image of her son, Trey Moats, and a message that she hopes will prevent further deaths like his. Moats might have survived an overdose if he had been taken to a hospital.

Lenora Lada has purchased a billboard to bear the image of her son, Trey Moats, and a message that she hopes will prevent further deaths like his. Moats might have survived an overdose if he had been taken to a hospital.

The night Trey died, they had dinner together at home before he went out.

“One of the things that has helped me through this is that he knew how much I loved him,” she said. “We had dinner that night, everything was great.”

According to a report from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Trey’s companions received a text message from him at about 2:30 that morning asking them to pick him up. They did so, the report said, and stopped at the Pit Stop convenience store, where one of the three others in the car noticed Trey seemed alarmingly unresponsive.

The report includes an interview with Trey’s girlfriend, who told investigators she had spent the day and most of the evening with him and not seen him consume any drugs.

The three people who picked him up, according to interview accounts with investigators, argued about what to do and then took Trey to the home of one of their mothers, who knew CPR, rather than the hospital.

One of the acquaintances called Lenora — the call that woke her up — and when she finally found the house, the mother of the girl told Lenora to put Trey in her car and drive him to the hospital.

“She said she didn’t want the sheriff coming there again,” Lenora said.

“Trey wasn’t a heroin addict, he died of an Ativan overdose, and getting help would have saved his life,” she said.

Ativan is a compound in the benzodiazipam family of drugs, used to treat anxiety but it’s also addictive. Lenora said Trey was not prescribed the drug by a physician.

According to a medical report that is part of the sheriff’s case file, Trey’s death was caused by organ failure due to a toxic dose of methamphetamine and Adderall.

Deputies and emergency personnel arrived at about 4:05 p.m., Lenora said. Trey was taken to the nearby hospital, where his heart was started again, but he had been out too long. “His brain …” she said, unable to finish the sentence.

She received a text at 4:16 from one of the people in the car who had left him at the Muskingum Drive house, saying she’d tried to talk the others into taking him to the hospital but they wouldn’t do it.

“I’m not justifying what Trey did, he took the Ativan himself, that’s not the issue, but he didn’t intend to die, and they let him,” she said.

Mingled with Lenora Lada’s grief is a measure of simmering anger at the people who could have saved her son and failed to act.

Within the next couple of days, a massive image will go up on the billboard at Ohio 60 and Colegate Drive, overlooking the patch of ground where Trey died.

“HIS LIFE MATTERED, No Excuse for not Calling 911 or taking someone to a hospital 3/10 of a mile could have saved Trey’s life,” the message reads, displayed with a picture of Trey.

“We’re having a candlelight vigil under the billboard on Trey’s birthday,” Lenora said. “I hope from where they live, they can see that billboard.”

Lenora’s brother, Rocky Lada, has been dealing with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office since Trey’s death. He said he’s gotten little information from officials, although they have suggested there might be an investigation underway that could take several months, during which time they will not release information.

“If there’s more to this, people are going to have to come forward,” he said. “We’ve heard plenty, but these are kids, you’re dealing with the drug community, and who’s going to tell the complete truth?” he said. “It’s just crazy, these were supposed to be his friends.

“They gave me the impression there are not going to be major charges for not calling 911, but where’s your morals?”

The case file on Trey’s death includes opinions from two doctors, one of whom said Trey probably wouldn’t have lived even if he had been taken directly to the hospital, and the other indicating that he might have lived. The file also states that despite a request to hold the body for autopsy, it was released to a funeral home and embalmed “without the coroner’s knowledge.”

“I know Trey made his own mistakes, but I can’t understand how people could do this,” Lenora said. “That’s my goal, to get the sheriff’s department to charge them.”

The case file includes a statement by a sheriff’s investigator: “On (Dec. 6, 2017, I met with Washington County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Rings and Assistant Prosecutor Alison Cauthorn about the Trey Moats Overdose Death Case. After extensively reviewing the case file and the Ohio Revised Code, it was determined no criminal charges could be filed against Trey’s friends for failing to call 911 nor could there ever be any charges filed for whoever provided him with drugs as he died of a multi-drug overdose …”

Lenora believes the statute places a duty to act on anyone in a position to save the life of another, and she wants to get the message out to as many people as she can that the law in many cases exempts drug users from being charged if they are in the position to save a life. Ohio’s Good Samaritan Law requires that those not charged then submit to a drug screening within 30 days. The privilege can be only be used twice and doesn’t apply to those on probation.

She recalls Trey’s friends who reached out to her after his death, and those who spoke at his memorial service.

“It’s amazing, the people who came forward. Kids spoke at his funeral, he didn’t realize he had so many friends, people who loved him,” she said.

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