Overdose victims identified in Pittsburgh’s South Side Flats
The medical examiner’s office has identified three men killed in a suspected drug overdose that sent four others to the hospital Sunday in the South Side Flats.
The three men were pronounced dead at the scene and identified as: Rubiel Clemente-Martinez, 32, of Columbus, Ohio; Joel Pecina, 32, of Coraopolis, and Josue Soberal Serrano, 38, of Carthage, Mo.
“We do believe this is drug-related. We do believe that they were overdoses,” Pittsburgh police narcotics Cmdr. Jason Lando said.
Police initially called the event a medical situation after five victims were found in an apartment at the SouthSide Works City Apartments, one was found in the elevator and another on a nearby street — all wearing orange wristbands.
“We do not believe this particular incident is going to be widespread,” Lando said. “So we are not in a situation where we expect people to be found in an overdosed state all over the city.”
The incident began about 2 a.m. when 911 received a call for an unresponsive man inside the apartment building, Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said.
A short time later, another man was found semiconscious near 26th and East Carson streets. He was traced to the same building, where police found five more victims inside an apartment.
Officials said the seven involved were all men.
Messages left for SouthSide Works management Sunday were not returned.
The apartment building management had said in a statement that none of those who had overdosed were residents of SouthSide Works City Apartments, according to the Tribune-Review’s media partner WPXI TV.
“The individuals that were involved in the incident were not residents of our community,” the statement said in part. “It is our understanding that they were acquaintances of a resident in good standing. It is also our understanding that the group had attended an outside event before returning to the apartment.”
Lando stressed that the incident is likely isolated and anyone who was at a venue that gave out orange wristbands need not worry.
“We have information that there was a party last night, some people were invited back to an after-party, and that’s potentially where the drugs were passed around,” he said. “Right now, that’s the theory that we’re working off of.”
He said that by late Sunday morning, three of the hospitalized men were in stable condition and the fourth was critical, but stable.
He said police wanted to try to quell a rising panic among the public that this could be a widespread event, though he noted that tainted drugs are always a concern.
“We believe that all the overdoses originated from one location, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some bad drugs going around elsewhere. We have nothing to point us in that direction right now, but I think the important message is: just don’t do illegal drugs,” Lando said. “We believe this particular incident is isolated.”