Mom says 6-year old picked up used syringe at popular park: 'One of the scariest moments of my life'

PORTLAND, Ore. - A 6-year-old boy's mother said it was one of the scariest moments of her life when she noticed her son had picked up a dirty syringe at a popular Portland park late Tuesday afternoon.

"He just pulled it right out, like it wasn't even hardly covered," Emily Brent-Fulps said. "I was just so stunned and freaked out."

The boy pulled out the plunger but wasn't stuck. His mom told him to drop it and he did. Another parent later picked it up with a napkin and got rid of it.

"The kids were barefoot. If that needle wasn't capped, they could have easily been poked by it," Brent-Fulps said.

She knows it's happened before.

"It's distressing to hear about this, but unfortunately, it's not a surprise," Portland Parks and Recreation spokesman Mark Ross said.

Ross said about 100 city staff maintenance and cleaning staff check each of the 209 city parks twice a day during the busy summer months.

"There's only so much we can do," Ross said. "Unfortunately drug abuse keeps happening everywhere, and public spaces like this are impacted by it."

He said shrubbery and cracks under stairs are often hiding spots where drug users will drop dirty needles. It's a good idea to keep kids away from those areas.

The city does not keep track of how many needles are found.

Ross argues the number is irrelevant.

"Counting them really won't do anything, whether there's two or 20, there's too many," he said. "As a complex problem as such, it's beyond our scope for a solution."

Brent-Fulps feels more could be done, such as signs or clearing more of the vegetation.

The city advises parents to talk to their kids about syringes and let them know to alert an adult. Adults should call the park ranger hotline at 503-823-1637.