Drug use at downtown Albuquerque park presenting health risks

Posted at: 10/21/2013 10:27 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

An Albuquerque man tells KOB Eyewitness News 4 he stepped on a used needle in a downtown park during a popular weekend event.

Now, Ben Adams faces a year full of regular medical check-ups, and his family is asking how something so frightening could have happened at a park they visit often.

"What's the future of my family?" said Adams on Monday. "If we wanted to have a kid within the year, we can't."

It's that feeling -- when everything's up in the air, and you're totally terrified. In this very moment -- it might be no one knows that feeling quite like Adams.

"It's kind of depressing to be honest," he said.

Adams is a vendor at the Albuquerque Downtown Grower's Market, and it's a family affair. FiancéTess and daughter Aiko come too. But on Saturday, something terrifying happened.

"At some point in the day a needle got stuck in my shoe," said Adams.

Adams didn't realize the needle was there till he got in his car.

"I put the brake on," he said. "It went through the shoe and into my heel."

Adams still has that needle.

"It's nasty, man."

But Adams thinks there are many more to be found in Robinson Park.    

So we set out to talk to folks who use the park every day.

"I just see scattered needles everywhere around here," said Adan Ulibarri, who said he hangs out at the park a couple times a week.

Ulibarri said he's always cautious of the needles often covered by grass and possibly carrying deadly disease.

"HIV, AIDS, you name it," he said.

Those big, scary illnesses are what are keeping that up-in-the-air feeling at the back of Adams' mind.

He isn't the only one.

"In a few short seconds our whole life has completely changed and we won't know anything for a long time," said fiancé Tess Coats. "I instantly was very upset and very mad that this had to happen to our family."

Coats watches, as her fiancé takes a drug cocktail daily to help prevent possible disease after an accident she says could have, and should have, been prevented.

"You can pass by all day and every day and see the drug use, and there's literally a blind eye," she said.

A Parks & Recreation Department spokesman says if you find a needle, you should call 3-1-1 immediately.  

Do not touch the needle yourself. 

As for Adams, he's been cleared of Hepatitis C., but it may be up to a year before he's cleared of HIV.

Meantime, he can't even think about having another child -- something that could have been in his plans sooner.