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Wagoner Co. Officials raise awareness on the dangers of fentanyl

Posted at 6:03 PM, May 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-10 19:21:00-04

WAGONER CO., Okla. — An Oklahoma District Attorney wants to raise awareness of the dangers of fentanyl on National Fentanyl Awareness Day.

District Attorney Jack Thorp along with the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office and a Wagoner County Coalition came together to shed light on the fentanyl crisis to improve the lives of people who live there.

Since January of last year, District Attorney Jack Thorp, who represents four counties in Eastern Oklahoma, says his district has seen 76 drug or alcohol-related deaths and 60% of those are fentanyl-related.

That’s why he’s urging the community to work together to combat this.

As we learned from families on Sunday, who came out to remember their loved ones lost to drug overdose, many of them say fentanyl is to blame for their deaths.

Theresa Watts lost her 32-year-old daughter Kendra Watts. She says she tried getting her daughter help for her addiction but it didn’t work. Then one day she got a call from her daughter’s employer reporting her absence.

“She had missed two days and she wasn’t like that. So we went to her apartment but we couldn’t get in," Watts said. "We ended up calling the police. They came and opened up the door and they found her. It was a drug overdose with heroin laced with fentanyl.”

It’s stories like this that drive Thorp to be passionate about raising awareness and cracking down on the fentanyl crisis.

“These individuals they want justice. Just as if their family member was shot or stabbed. It's a homicide. If a drug dealer delivers drugs and that kills your loved one, it’s homicide,” Thorp said.

Since Thorp launched an initiative in April to treat overdoses as homicides instead of accidental, he says he’s pursued charges against drug dealers in three overdose deaths.

In another shocking statistic, Thorpe says fentanyl is blamed for more deaths in Americans under 50 than any other cause.

He says the difficulty with fentanyl is it’s often disguised as other drugs.

“They are mixing it in everything because it’s making that drug more addictive, it's cheap and it's killing people. I mean it's the scariest thing,” Thorp said.

For Watts, she believes her daughter wouldn’t want her to grieve silently but instead raise awareness.

“This is killing people. It’s destroying families," she said. "You got brothers and sisters here. You got moms and dads on these posters and crosses. That’s not the way it should be, so we need to let everybody know.”

Thorp also urges parents to check their children's social media because he says that’s how they are communicating to get drugs.

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