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'One pill can kill': Nonprofit spreads awareness of counterfeit fentanyl pills

SOURCE: KTAU ABC By Frances Lin, KATU Staff

PORTLAND, Ore. — Fake pills laced with fentanyl have killed countless teenagers this year, including two in Portland.

According to the CDC, deaths from fentanyl have tripled in the past two years among teenagers.

Parents who lost a child due to a fentanyl death created a nonprofit called Song For Charlie.

It includes parents with the Beaverton School District.

They have an important message for teenagers: if a pill didn't come from a doctor, don't take it. Just one pill could kill you.

No parent should ever have to see their child die, but because of one counterfeit pill, many young people's lives ended, leaving behind devastated families.

Many are determined to make a change.

"Our youngest son Charlie died May 2020 from a counterfeit poisonous pill," said Mary Ternan, vice president with Song For Charlie and also Charlie's mother.

"I tragically lost my 17-year-old son Zachary," said Laura Didier, outreach coordinator with Song For Charlie.

"We joined Song For Charlie after losing our 18-year-old son Cal in December of 2020," said Jennifer Epstein, director of outreach and education with Song For Charlie, also a parent with the Beaverton School District.

They say none of these kids showed signs of addiction.

They were normal teenagers.

"He was a lifeguard," said Epstein.

"He was a straight-A student," said Didier.

And just like these kids, many others thought they had bought a Percocet pill.

"It sounds like he just wanted to block a little stress, relax, in the middle of that. He did not have a history with abusing drugs or alcohol, so it was very out of character," said Didier.

Turns out they were fake, laced with fentanyl.

"There’s nothing Percocet about the Percocet that Charlie took. It was counterfeit, completely fake," said Ed Ternan, president with Song For Charlie, and also Charlie's father.

"You’ll hear people say, 'I trust this guy. I trust this dealer.' But in reality, you have no idea," said Mac C., Charlie's friend.

Presenters want to spread awareness.

"I’m like, Charlie died? What are you talking about, Charlie died? He died from pills," said Mary Ternan, crying.

"My earth shattered. I didn’t know what to do with myself," said Teresa Ternan, Charlie's sister.

To watch the full video Song For Charlie produced, click here.

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