Former NC heroin addict meets first responders who saved her life


SNEADS FERRY, N.C. (WNCT) – It’s been a long, difficult, but rewarding two years for Della Geohagan, who has come from being a heroin addict on the brink of death, to an active community member now giving back to others.

Geohagan’s addiction to heroin started at the age of 17, when she shot up for the first time in the parking lot of a McDonald’s in Surf City.

“I would settle for pain pills after that, but I didn’t want them,” Geohagan said. “Heroin is what I wanted.”

After that first experience, heroin took over her life, ranging from a few times a week, to a few times a day. She said it was all dependent on money, and whether she could find it.

“You know the feeling like when you turn the shower on, it’s been a long day, you’re cold, and you turn that shower on and it’s just warmth from top to bottom, and you close your eyes, and you go man this feels good. That’s what it is,” she said.

Over the next few years, Geohagan’s life spiraled out of control. She lost all of her money, lost touch with her family and friends, and was kicked out of her apartment.

Nothing seemed to matter to Geohagan, until one day in December 2013 when she was on the brink of death. She had shot up in a a bank parking lot in Downtown Wilmington, and had passed out behind the wheel.

“She actually rolled through two red lights, and a good Samaritan realized what was happening, and pulled his car in front of her, and intentionally let her run into the back of him,” said Corporal D.P. Roehrig with Wilmington Police.

Geohagan’s car eventually came to rest against a power pole, luckily right in front of an EMS station.

Geohagan was unconscious and not breathing when paramedics arrived on scene. Once they realized she had overdosed, they used the drug Narcan to revive her. This scary incident was what it took Geohagan to realize something had to change.

“Nothing happens by coincidence,” she said. “The lord has a plan for us all, whether you’re a believer or a non-believer.”

Two years later, and with the help of WNCT, Geohagan got to meet the first responders she credits for not only saving her life, but turning it around.

D.P. Roehrig with Wilmington Police and Eric Heinz, a paramedic with New Hanover Regional, said they both remember the day very well.

“Most of the time when we see people we’ve interacted previously, it’s another negative interaction, and this time it’s good that it’s positive,” Roehrig said.

Heinz had only been a paramedic in Wilmington for a few months before the accident happened.

“This is the first time I’ve been approached positively as well, and it is wonderful to see that she has changed,” Heinz said.

Since turning her life around, Geohagan has decided to give back to others, as the women’s mentor in H2O, a Christ based ministry at Salem Baptist Church in Sneads Ferry aimed at helping addicts and their loved ones.

She said the best part is getting her life back, and finally being able to hold her head up high.

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