Em's overdose

Johnstown Police Department and the Cambria County Coroner's Office respond to an overdose death at Em's Original Sub Shop on Main Street in Johnstown on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. 

A woman was found dead inside the bathroom of a downtown Johnstown sandwich shop Tuesday, and it appears a drug overdose took her life, investigators said.

Jessica B. James, 39, of East Conemaugh, was found dead on the floor of an Em’s Original Sub Shop restroom, Cambria County Coroner Jeff Lees said Tuesday.

A “heroin needle” was still stuck in her arm, Lees said.

“A toxicology study will be conducted to verify the cause of death. But it appears this was an acute heroin overdose,” he said, noting that a cooking spoon and several packets of heroin were found in her possession.

Johnstown Police Sgt. Pat Goggin said the death appeared to be accidental but they were awaiting final results from Lees’ office.

Police were dispatched to the scene minutes before 4 p.m.

Goggin said the woman, later identified as James, may have been in the restroom for a half hour or so before someone tried to access the restroom and discovered the woman unconscious inside.

“It’s just shocking,” said Jamie Marsh, of Prospect, who said she was inside the restaurant when responders arrived to find the woman dead.

Sadly, it seems heroin and other powerful drugs are taking young lives every day and everywhere around the Johns-town area, Marsh said.

“This has always been such a safe, decent town. But there’s addicts everywhere now, and once it gets a hold of you, you’re hooked. That could be someone’s sister or niece or friend in there,” she said, standing outside the sub shop and gesturing toward a restroom door. 

At least 44 people have died of drug overdoses in Cambria County this year, including a record number – at least two dozen – of heroin overdoses, according to figures provided by the coroner’s office this month.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

Recommended for you