The estranged daughter of a Memphis man whose heroin overdose went viral said seeing the video was a sign from God and led to an unlikely intervention.
On Oct. 3, Ronald Hiers and his wife, Carla, were filmed on a nine-minute cellphone video as they overdosed on heroin. The couple was unaware that a crowd had formed around them – some laughing and joking — as they experienced one of the worst moments of their lives, which was broadcast live on Facebook.
As the Hiers lie on the sidewalk, just blocks away from Memphis’ medical district, one passerby wondered allowed whether they were alive, even going as far to check Ronald’s pulse.
The video has been viewed more than 3.2 million times. Among the viewers was Hiers’ 34-year-old daughter, who has had a strained relationship with her father, with minimal contact, for more than a decade, CNN reported.
The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, ultimately got help for the pair. It was her birthday when she saw the overdose video, and she took it as a sign from God.
“I was supposed to see that video,” she said. “I felt something in my heart that I hadn’t felt in years: compassion to help.”
The couple survived after first responders revived them with the drug Narcan, which can reverse opioid overdoses. They were then given a scholarship to attend rehab in separate facilities, thanks to Hiers’ daughter, who called an addiction hotline on their behalf.
Hiers said that people seemed to forget in that moment he is still a “human being.”
“I am a son. A husband. A brother. A grandfather. A father. I’m a human being,” Hiers said. “That’s what so many people missed about it. Those were two human beings.”
Although Hiers was visibly upset in the video as he heard the crowd laugh at his expense, he said he is not angry at the man who filmed it, who was among them. But he said he believes the man would have acted differently had it been his mother or father.
“He did not put myself nor my wife in that position. We put ourselves there,” he said. “Had it been his mother or father on that sidewalk, on their face, he would have certainly called 911 instead of filming a video to see how many hits he could get on it.”
Hiers finished rehab in a Mississippi facility a couple of weeks ago and will live in a supervised community home to help him transition to life outside of the facility and stay clean. Carla Hiers, who said she has been addicted to opioids for 40 years, has been receiving treatment at a Massachusetts facility. She called the video a “wakeup call.”
“I am very optimistic about my recovery, and feel like God has reached down and pulled me out of a very dangerous situation,” she said. “Since the video surfaced, I’ve learned that I can trust people, something I never did before…I don’t feel hopeless, worthless and useless anymore.”