Andrew Wonacott quivered, holding back tears as he recalled answering the phone and learning his youngest son had died from a fentanyl overdose. The young man in his 20s barely even drank as a teenager and served in the military before drugs took over his life. Less than two years later, Wonacott panicked after he hadn’t heard from another son for five days. He went to his son’s apartment, using a screwdriver and an iPhone flashlight to break in. There he found his second son dead from fentanyl. "If fentanyl has not touched you, it will," said Wonacott, a Washington father with two surviving kids. "It's a Russian roulette. You don't know if the next dose is gonna be the one that kills you or not." WATCH MORE FOX NEWS DIGITAL ORIGINALS HERE Wonacott transformed his grief into motivation and began battling the ongoing fentanyl crisis. He couldn't let other parents go through the nightmare he and his wife experienced. The grieving father started a crusade for legislation to harshen penalties for drug dealers in honor of his sons. He also serves on a state task force that collaborates with local leaders and law enforcement to push for legislation and educate community members about fentanyl. "I will not put it down," he said. "I will be continuing to fight this fight until there is something meaningful that changes with fentanyl." Wonacott never imagined he could lose not one, but two of his sons to fentanyl. He remembered how his younger son, William, would pick up his friends to go out in high school as the designated driver. He was a hard-working teen who later served in the Air Force. "He was a really good kid, got good grades and was a star in acting," Wonacott said. "He never drank. He never smoked, anything like that." ‘BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS’: ACTIVISTS DECRY BAN ON PUBLIC DRUG USE PASSED BY BLUE CITY LEADERS But that changed when William married a woman who had been prescribed oxycontin while recovering from an accident. First she got addicted. Then William did, too. On April 16, 2021, William died from methamphetamine laced with fentanyl. At 27, he became one of the 106,699 overdose deaths that year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About two-thirds of those were from synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl. In Washington, drug overdose deaths have risen nearly 67% between April 2021 and April 2023, according to the CDC. Deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl nearly doubled over the same period. "It was a hit to the gut real bad," Wonacott said as tears filled his eyes. "It's not even related to being addicted to fentanyl. I mean, your kid could be taking an oxy for some muscle pain or … they could be just smoking a joint that they got sharing with a friend, and it could be laced and they die. Fentanyl is an indiscriminate killer." Fentanyl can be up to 100 times more potent than heroin and has become a staple in the opioid epidemic. In some instances, users may be unaware that the drugs they're taking are laced with fentanyl. "It's not just one generation we're talking about," Wonacott said. "These people had dreams and aspirations and would have had other family. It's multiple generations that this drug is killing." MOM WHO LOST SONS TO FENTANYL RIPS INTO LAWMAKERS IN EMOTIONAL HOUSE TESTIMONY: ‘THIS IS A WAR, ACT LIKE IT!’ Another son, James, began battling addiction well before William. He'd been clean for a few years when his younger brother died. "I think when William passed, it triggered him," Wonacott said. Just 19 months later, Wonacott hadn't heard from James for a few days. He feared his son may have relapsed. Wonacott went to check on James, but his apartment was locked. Wonacott broke in and found his son on Nov. 15, 2022. James overdosed and died from meth laced with fentanyl — the same drug cocktail that killed William. "That really was a big blow, to break into his apartment and find him and have to call 911," Wonacott said, holding back tears. "That's 50% of my children that my wife and I lost to fentanyl." "We decided that we had to do something," he added. Wonacott never had to think about fentanyl's dangers until the drug killed his sons. Now it's all he thinks about. "I didn't know much about it when my first boy passed in 2021," he said. "I think people just put the blinders on … but when it happened to James, we started looking." METH PIPE VALENTINES? HARM REDUCTION ADVOCATES, CRITICS AT ODDS OVER BEST WAY TO HELP DRUG USERS "I'm not surprised about the rise in deaths," Wonacott said, citing that more fentanyl has been coming into the country each year and ravaging communities. "We've got to stop the influx from Mexico … because with that inflow, the drugs are available, and it's really cheap and people are just consuming it." Fentanyl has been regularly seized at the southern border as migrants and drugs pour in at record-breaking levels. Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens tweeted Sept. 26 that agents seized more than 69,000 lbs of narcotics over the course of the past year, including over 2,700 lbs of fentanyl — enough to kill the entire U.S. population, according to CBP. "The only way to stop it is to stop the flow," Wonacott said. "We need federal help. The federal government has got to do something about the border. That's their job." BORDER PATROL SEIZES ENOUGH FENTANYL TO KILL 100 MILLION AMERICANS IN UNDER FIVE MONTHS Wonacott contacted his congressman, Rep. Dan Newhouse, to work together to combat the fentanyl epidemic after his second son died. Newhouse, inspired by Wonacott's story, in March introduced the William and James Wonacott Act of 2023, which would increase penalties for dealers selling fentanyl-laced drugs, though the bill has stalled. "The drug dealers now are experimenting with other drugs," Wonacott said. "They're lacing it in marijuana. They're putting it in anything that they can get their hands on because they know it's so addictive." "There is a law enforcement side of this, and we have to go after [the dealers]," he continued. "But this elephant is so big, there's not one piece of legislation or one thing that's going to change it." CASES OF MARIJUANA LACED WITH FENTANYL INCREASING, SAYS WASHINGTON DOCTOR Wonacott also joined Newhouse's Central Washington Fentanyl Task Force, which includes law enforcement, doctors, and local leaders. The members educate the public about what fentanyl is and teach them what the best treatments are for addicts. They also identify where more resources are needed based on drug trends and talk through ideas for potential legislation to combat the crisis. Still, Wonacott said there's still much to be done at all levels of government. The Washington father told Fox News that schools across the country need to better educate children on the dangers of fentanyl and other drugs. He also said rehab facilities need more resources to offer addicts long-term treatment rather than rushing them out in 60 days. "We have to attack it at all fronts," Wonacott said. "We can't let this go by the wayside." BLUE STATE LAWMAKERS PASS DRUG POSSESSION BILL IN RUSH TO AVOID DECRIMINALIZATION DEADLINE Wonacott told Fox News it's scary to imagine what the country would look like if the drug epidemic worsens. He said every town in America could become an open-air drug market like Philadelphia's internationally infamous Kensington neighborhood. "That's a scary thought because those people — when they're in that condition and they're addicted to it — they lose all their inhibitions," Wonacott said. "Crime will go up. Murder will go up." "It's zombie apocalypse type stuff," Wonacott added. "It's going to be from little towns to major cities. It's not going to just be in these isolated cities. It's going to be all over the place."
28 Ekim 2023 - 17:40
This Washington father lost his son to fentanyl. Nearly two years later, he lost another
Andrew Wonacott, a Washington father, lost two of his children to fentanyl-related overdoses and is calling on the federal government to combat the crisis.
28 Ekim 2023 - 17:40