O’NEALS — Quick thinking — and expert action — on the part of two Madera County Sheriff’s Office personnel resulted in an arrest rather than a trip to the morgue for a crime suspect who swallowed a bag of heroin.
The incident started last week (Jan. 8) around 2:45 p.m. when MCSO Deputy Jose Villegas and Corporal Amy Roussell responded to the 49000 block of Road 200 in O’Neals in regards to a trespassing complaint.
During their investigation, it was determined that the suspects — one male and one female — had left the area in a U-Haul truck heading east on Road 200 towards North Fork.
Deputy Villegas and Corporal Roussell began checking Road 200 and ultimately located the U-Haul truck traveling west.
A traffic stop was conducted and the occupants were contacted.
The female passenger had an active warrant for her arrest and was taken into custody without incident.
But the male driver of the vehicle refused to provide identification and gave deputies a false name and date of birth. He was taken into custody for delaying/obstructing a peace officer.
After being arrested and placed in the rear of Corporal Roussell’s patrol vehicle, the male, later identified as 38-year-old Dustin Welch, informed Roussell that he needed an ambulance, admitting that he had swallowed a bag of heroin a short time earlier.
Welch then became unresponsive and Roussell requested an ambulance. Due to the terrain of the roadway (no room on the shoulder and a steep incline), she was forced to drive a short distance down the roadway in order to have a clear and safe area to remove Welch from the patrol vehicle.
Upon arriving at a clear area, Welch remained unresponsive in the rear seat of the patrol vehicle, even after a dose of Narcan was administered. He was then removed from the patrol vehicle and placed on the ground. His handcuffs were removed and a second dose of Narcan was administered.
Welch awoke momentarily, then returned to an unresponsive state.
At about this time, Deputy Villegas arrived on scene and began to administer CPR.
After approximately 10-15 chest compressions, Welch regained consciousness briefly and then returned to an unresponsive state but was able to maintain a slow pulse rate.
CalFire arrived at the scene and monitored Welch until Sierra Ambulance arrived a short time later.
Welch was subsequently transported to a Fresno area hospital where he was treated and later taken back into custody.
“We would like to recognize Corporal Roussell and Deputy Villegas for a job well done,” Sheriff Jay Varney said on MCSO’s Facebook page. “Had it not been for their quick thinking, utilization of equipment, coordination of agencies and team work, there very likely could have been a grave outcome to this incident.”
The sheriff said the incident highlights “the ever-evolving nature of the work we do, and how the circumstances of a ‘routine’ call for service or arrest can change in an instant.”