HOPEWELL, Va. – Nearly 24 hours after a house full of children under the age of eight were rushed to the hospital and treated for an overdose, Hopewell Police said their investigation is far from over.
Hopewell Police said the seven children will make a full recovery after officers were called to a home at 100 South 16th Street around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Police found four children unresponsive. Officers then found three more kids in a different part of the house who were awake, but were lethargic, according to investigators.
While the early diagnosis looked grim for some of the children, Lt. Cheyenne Casale with Hopewell Police said Thursday morning that the children would "make a full recovery.”
Doctors told police that the children, who range in age from 7 to 1 year old, overcame the odds.
"They were able to metabolize it and process it,” Casale said.
Police said the drug was prescribed to the 7-year-old for anxiety. But when it is administered to young children in the wrong doses, the symptoms “presented in the same way as a heroin overdose,” according to Casale.
"It causes someone to be lethargic, sleepy and unconscious at some point," Casale explained.
Jeffrey Gelina, who is related to four of the children, called what happened "really upsetting."
Gelina said he has been in contact with his half-brother, who is the father of three of the children. He said there were two other adults in the home.
Police said the mother of four who lives at the home was asked by the mother of the other three children to look after her children due to a family emergency.
However, police said the mother of four walked a block away to a nearby convenience store for a few minutes.
"The kids were being watched," Gelina said. "We don’t know when they got a hold of it."
Police spent Thursday talking with the two mothers and another adult as investigators are still working out the details of who exactly was watching the seven children. Social services and child protective services also involved in the investigation.
“We've also had the opportunity to speak with child protective services further and they’re looking into how to either create a better environment for the children or may be find a different way to assist the family as far as taking care of them,” Casale said.
Hopewell Police did respond to the home in November of 2021 after being called by child protective services for a welfare check of the children. However, no one was at the home when officers arrived, officials said.
Hopewell Police said the children will remain hospitalized until they are cleared by doctors.
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