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Heroin overdose suspected where two found dead in Buffalo home

Another day, another overdose death.

Actually, there were at least two Saturday, both in the simple Buffalo apartment house at 212 Watson St.

John Pratt discovered the bodies. One victim was his roommate, a mother in her 40s who had recently moved here from New Hampshire. Her body was found with that of a man, probably in his 30s or 40s, whom Pratt did not know.

Pratt spotted a needle near the man’s toe. Also in the room was a Narcan kit, a police source said. It apparently was standing by to deal with a heroin overdose, if one of them had been healthy enough to save the other.

Both were beyond saving when fire department medics arrived. Pratt heard a medic say the woman was blue and the man was ice cold.

When toxicology tests are completed for 2015, Erie County’s overdose deaths from heroin and prescription painkillers are projected to top 250. That’s twice the number from 2014. And there is no sign that deaths from the epidemic will decline for 2016.

Health officials call the use of heroin and prescription painkillers an epidemic coursing through every social strata.

Earlier in the day, police hurried to a report of an overdose at 47 Shepard St., which is near Broadway and Bailey Avenue.

In the battered pale-blue house on Shepard, there was a better outcome than on Watson. Police found an unresponsive man on a couch while five people around him seemed unfazed. In fact, the five were still doing drugs, Lt. Thomas English said.

Fortunately, city police carry Narcan.

“We were able to revive him,” said English, who knew of the deaths over on Watson Street.

“One out of three,” he said.

Police said when they entered the apartment they found a woman with the victim’s phone in her hand, but they said none of those present had called for medical assistance, even though the man had overdosed on heroin hours before.

One of those present, Robert Tate, whose age was not reported, was charged with first-degree reckless endangerment and third-degree burglary, as well as false personation. He allegedly gave a fake name because he was wanted on an unrelated arrest warrant. The burglary charge was filed because Tate and the others had been barred from the property by the landlord as of Monday. John Pratt barely knew his roommate. She had moved in only a couple of weeks earlier. He didn’t want to give out her name Saturday because her next of kin probably did not know she was dead. The woman had spoken of a teenage daughter back in New Hampshire.

He said he knew the woman brought in a friend on Friday night, and he peeked into her bedroom around 7:30 Saturday morning to see if he was still around. The landlord doesn’t like overnight guests, Pratt explained.

Both were on the bed, and Pratt assumed they were asleep. He went out for a couple of hours. When back home again, he went to check on the woman and to ask for a cigarette. With their positions unchanged, Pratt knew something was wrong.

Investigating further, he saw the needle and a small bottle nearby. He called 911 as well as his landlord, Walter Springer.

Both appeared stunned Saturday, with police cars parked around the house and an employee from the Medical Examiner’s Office inside tending to the bodies.

Pratt was asked what he was going to do with himself later in the day.

“Say a prayer for her,” he said.

Staff photographer John Hickey and freelance photographer JoAnne McNamara contributed to this report. email: