State probed Dallastown dad before tot OD'd

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Justin Allen Ennis

A Dallastown man accused of inadvertently letting his toddler daughter ingest the powerful opioid fentanyl had previously been investigated for child abuse, according to a report from the state Department of Human Services.

That investigation determined the earlier report of child abuse — involving Justin Allen Ennis and his 6-year-old son — was unfounded, the DHS report states.

Ennis' 14-month-old daughter nearly died and had a more-than-lethal dose of fentanyl in her system when hospital staff tested her, according to police.

Afterward, Ennis went on the lam, according to a DHS "fatalities/near-fatalities" report.

Ennis, 32, of the 600 block of Trolley Road, remains in York County Prison on $50,000 bail, charged with two counts of child endangerment, both graded as felonies.

The DHS report states that it's believed the girl ingested two or three fentanyl capsules while she and her 6-year-old brother were playing in their living room the day after Christmas 2017.

Ennis faces two counts of each charge because he allegedly  put both of his children at risk by leaving the fentanyl within their reach, police said.

Two hospitals: Police said the little girl was rushed to York Hospital and later transferred to Hershey Medical Center for specialized treatment. When she arrived at York Hospital, she was unresponsive and had shallow breathing, according to DHS.

The DHS report reveals she was given three doses of Narcan — which negates the effects of opioids — at York Hospital, a fourth dose en route to Hershey and a fifth dose at Hershey Medical Center.

She was hospitalized for two days, according to the DHS report.

The DHS report states that the York County Office of Children, Youth and Families was already involved with the family when the overdose happened.

On Dec. 6, 2017 — 20 days before Ennis' daughter ingested the fentanyl — child-welfare officials received a report that Ennis abused his son, according to the report.

Caseworkers investigated and on Jan. 19, 2018, determined the report was unfounded, according to DHS.

Protective custody: After the toddler's overdose, caseworkers created a safety plan for the family, and the child's mother was allowed to take her home, the DHS report states.

But during an unannounced home visit by caseworkers in December 2018, it was determined the mother had violated that plan, and both children were taken into protective custody, the report states.

Because there were no appropriate family members able to take in the siblings, they were placed in foster care, according to DHS.

Children, Youth and Families has recommended various services aimed at reunifying the family, including supervised visitation, parenting classes, random drug testing and providing an intensive family-services team, the DHS report states.

It's unclear whether the children remain in foster care.

The background: York Area Regional Police filed charges against Ennis on Jan. 25, 2018, according to charging documents, which indicate Ennis was on the run until being arraigned on his charges  March 8.

According to those documents, an ambulance crew and police were dispatched to the Ennis home just before 7 p.m. Dec. 26, 2017, after Ennis called 911.

During the 911 call, Ennis described his daughter "as dying and being 'gone,'" according to charging documents.

The toddler and her older brother were playing with toys in the living room of their home when she went to her mother and collapsed, police said.

Ennis told police he had fentanyl capsules inside a cigarette pack that was in his jacket pocket, and he said he left his jacket on the floor, documents allege.

More:Police: Dallastown toddler nearly died, OD'd on father's fentanyl

Second child overdose: The DHS report also lists an unrelated incident in which a 10-month-old York County baby nearly died on Jan. 9, 2018, from an overdose of fentanyl.

The baby was in the care of his father because his mother was at work. The father found the baby in his crib, not breathing, the report states.

Instead of calling 911, the father called a friend, who then drove the father and baby to a local hospital, according to the DHS report.

Because of that, more than an hour elapsed between the time the father first found his baby not breathing and the child getting medical attention, the report states.

The baby was in profound respiratory failure and was close to having a full cardiac arrest, according to the report. It was suspected the child had ingested something, and he was given CPR and Narcan.

The baby became responsive after receiving two doses of Narcan, according to DHS.

Dad uncooperative: The father, who has a history of drug use, refused to take a drug test at the hospital, the report states, adding the baby tested positive for fentanyl.

An investigation determined the father wasn't living with the baby or the baby's mother and was babysitting that day, according to DHS.

The mother agreed to a safety plan that forbade the father from having any unsupervised contact with the child or his 8-year-old sibling, DHS said, and the family later moved to Cumberland County.

No criminal charges were filed, according to the report.

DHS "fatalities/near fatalities" reports don't list names of victims, perpetrators or parents.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.