'Just a dad that needed to do something': How Naperville man changed law to help overdose victims

If only those with Alex Green that early December morning in 2018 had sought help, maybe the 25-year-old would have gotten to spend another Christmas with his father.

Instead, Bill Green of Naperville suspects, those with his son were afraid they would face arrest and drug charges if they called to report that Alex was suffering through the early stages of a fentanyl overdose. So that Christmas morning, they dropped off Alex at a gas station near an expressway in Forest Park, then took off.

Green stumbled around the convenience store for a while. Two clerks thought he was drunk. The first police officers called to the store thought so, too, until Alex lost consciousness. An officer tried giving him a nasal dose of the overdose-reversing drug Narcan, but it was ineffective because Alex was not breathing. He died shortly thereafter at a hospital.

Alex's death launched his father on a mission, one that reached its goal last Friday when Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed “Alex's Law.” Under the new law, a person who calls emergency services to help someone experiencing an overdose will not face arrest or prosecution for drug possession.

“If it saves one life, it has done its job,” Bill Green said Wednesday. “It should be easier to come forward.”

“Fear of criminal charges should never result in someone not receiving the medical assistance they need,” said Sen. Laura Ellman of Naperville, the bill's Senate sponsor. “Saving lives has to be our first priority.”

‘Needed to do something'

Bill Green said his son began having difficulties, including depression, around age 23. The night before he died, he surmises, Alex went to the Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago to buy drugs.

If Alex had been given Narcan when he was in distress the next morning, it likely would have worked, giving him a chance to get help for his drug problem and change his life.

The new law combines Green's proposal and that from another family, which lost a son to an overdose about 10 years ago, he said.

“I'm just a dad that needed to do something,” he told us.

Green plans to spread the word about Alex's Law by handing out cards reading “You Make the Call” at recovery centers and schools.

“Friends, strangers and passersby need to know that it's always safe to help someone in distress, so they may see those they love at least one more day,” Green said when Pritzker signed the bill last week.

The law takes effect Jan. 1.

No second break for killer

An Aurora Township man convicted in the horrific 2007 killing of an elderly World War II veteran doesn't deserve a second break on his long prison term, a state appeals court said this month.

The 2nd District Appellate Court of Illinois, which had thrown out an earlier sentence, this time unanimously upheld the 55-year term given to Hector M. Mauricio for the murder of 83-year-old neighbor Roscoe Ebey during a home invasion.

Authorities say Ebey was stabbed 36 times and cut 38 times in the attack. Mauricio then tried to set Ebey's home on fire but was captured by another neighbor and held until police arrived.

Mauricio was sentenced in 2011 to 60 years in prison, but the appeals court tossed it three years later, ruling the sentencing judge had improperly expressed admiration for Ebey as a member of the “Greatest Generation.”

Mauricio was given the 55-year term at a 2015 resentencing hearing, and this time appellate justices upheld it. In their 14-page ruling, justices rejected Mauricio's argument that 55 years was too harsh, given that he was only 20 at the time of the murder and had endured a traumatic and abuse-filled childhood that included his father's killing of his older brother.

Now 35, Mauricio isn't eligible for parole until May 2062.

Help for veterans in jail

Veterans who find themselves behind bars in Lake County now have another way to get help, through a new partnership between the county sheriff's office and the Department of Veterans Affairs' nearby Captain James Lovell Federal Healthcare Center.

Through the agreement, veterans in the county jail will have access to an iPad for virtual face-to-face meetings with social workers and other VA personnel. That will allow the inmates to learn about assistance opportunities waiting for them when they leave jail, giving them a head start on their re-entry, officials said.

“The fewer repeat faces we see inside the jail, the better,” Sheriff John D. Idleburg said in an announcement of the partnership this week. “By allowing our veterans the opportunity to use some of their incarcerated time to connect with VA representatives, we are providing them yet another tool to be successful when they re-enter our community.”

Moving on up

Congratulations to Batavia Detective Michelle Langston, who has been promoted to sergeant. Seems hard to believe in 2021, but she will be the department's first female sergeant.

Langston isn't the only one taking a step up in the Batavia PD. Eric Blowers, a 14-year department veteran, was sworn in this month as the department's new deputy chief. Blowers, who has served as a patrol officer, detective, sergeant and watch commander of investigations, recently was recognized by the FBI for outstanding assistance and leadership in a multijurisdictional domestic terrorism investigation, according to the department.

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Hector M. Mauricio
New Batavia Deputy Police Chief Eric Blowers Courtesy of Batavia Police Department
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