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7 children recovering after taking prescription medication

Hopewell police said seven children are being treated at the hospital after taking what is...
Hopewell police said seven children are being treated at the hospital after taking what is believed to be a prescription medication.(NBC12)
Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 9:42 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 25, 2022 at 10:45 AM EDT
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HOPEWELL, Va. (WWBT) - Hopewell police said seven children between the ages of 1 and 7 are recovering after taking prescription anxiety medication.

Police said a mother dropped off her three children at a duplex along South 16th Avenue Wednesday afternoon and that four children were already at the house.

Officials said the mother inside the duplex left to go to Golden Express, a corner store about a block away, leaving all seven children. Lt. Cheyenne Casale with the Hopewell Police Department said the mother thought an adult was there when she left.

While at the corner store, that’s when police believe the children had taken the drugs.

What the mother saw when she returned, police say, was overwhelming.

“When she came back, she started noticing the children weren’t acting right, saying they were acting lethargic, almost pure like they were not even able to wake up,” Lt. Casale said. “And that’s when she called. EMS responded first. They realized the severity of the situation, was concerned about what else had been going on, and called us to assist,” Casale said.

The Hopewell Fire Department was called to the home around 4:30 p.m., where crews found four children breathing but unresponsive. Their ages were 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Officials said all seven children were transported to John Randolph Medical Center and were later transported to Richmond area hospitals due to their declining state of health.

Lt. Casale said the anxiety medication was prescribed to the 7-year-old who lived at the duplex.

Allen Satterfield said that he stays on the second floor of the duplex, above the mother and her four children.

“We was actually on the porch, and like I told the other gentleman, we just kept hearing sirens after sirens. And we were like, ‘where they going?’ And we saw them turn on this street. Right in front,” Satterfield said. Although outside of the duplex, he said he didn’t know what was going on.

Jeffery Gelina, the uncle of four of the children, said this has never happened before.

“Just dealing with this is just - it’s a lot more emotion like this,” Gelina said. “It’s really upsetting.”

Police are working to determine if the children were left unsupervised.

“Is it more of a child protective services case where they can offer a safety plan and way to create a better environment for the children? Or is there some criminal negligence involved where we would file charges?” Lt. Casale said.

Police will soon question three adults connected to the case and the 7-year-old. Hopewell police said all seven children are expected to recover.

“It could’ve been the other way if we had not responded sooner. The fact that we were there within 20 minutes of them supposedly ingesting the medication, according to the doctors, made all the difference,” Lt. Casale said.

The Hopewell Department of Social Services, Child Protective Services, and the Hopewell Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Unit are conducting a joint investigation.

Officials are also working with the Commonwealth Attorney’s office to determine what charges if any are appropriate for this incident.

Lt. Casale is urging parents to keep medications locked up and out of reach of children.

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