COARSEGOLD – The United States Drug Enforcement Administration has made two arrests in connection with a local heroin overdose death.
The victim – 29-year-old Wade Daltyn August of Coarsegold – was found unconscious by his mother in the early morning hours of August 22. Emergency medical services responded but were unable to revive him.
The victim’s mother subsequently located numerous messages between her son and two local women, touching off a lengthy investigation.
Ashley M. Hill, 32, of Coarsegold, is charged with selling heroin in the mountain community, an activity that had been going on for some time according to the criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in federal court on November 1.
Messages contained in the court document and obtained by Sierra News Online show Hill selling heroin to the victim as early as August 11. Messages between Hill and the victim contained in the complaint show Hill telling the victim she can sell him “blk” – street slang for black tar heroin – for cash.
In other messages, Hill is seen communicating with others seeking heroin. In one of these conversations, a drug seeker – who is not charged or implicated in this case – tells Hill they are “sick” from withdrawal and Hill responds with an offer to sell them either black tar heroin or another substance she calls “white.” White is a slang reference for the white powder form of heroin or opioid/opiate pills.
Coarsegold resident Georgia Dean, 36, is alleged to have acted as an intermediary on the deadly deal, negotiating the price and locating the victim’s home.
On the night of the victim’s death, Dean and Hill appear to have delivered heroin and drug paraphernalia together to the victim’s home on North Dome Drive. Dean arranged for Hill to deliver half a gram of heroin and a syringe to the victim at his Yosemite Lakes Park home. The two women then drove to the Chukchansi Casino, according to the complaint.
“This has been devastating for me and my family,” said Julie August, the victim’s mother. “A lot of people here knew him as the happy, funny person that he was.”
August has vowed to attend court appearances and continue advocating for justice. “Only those two know what happened that night – and my son – who can’t tell his story.”
The next court appearance is scheduled for January.
Both Hill and Dean are being held in Fresno County Jail on a U.S. Marshall’s hold without bail on charges of ‘Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin Resulting in Death’.