LIBERTY, Mo. — Thursday night in Clay County the Sheriff’s Department celebrated law enforcement officers for going beyond the call of duty. However, deputies weren’t the only ones recognized by the department.
In Clay County, fentanyl is a rising problem. Sheriff Will Akin took time to recognize two people who made the choice to turn their lives around.
Shelby Wahl, 25, said she lost everything to fentanyl, but now she has her life back.
“When I say I was at rock bottom I had seven different warrants in seven different counties and a year later I have none. I have no court cases and I’m sober. I was one of the worst case scenarios but I’ve made it back. Anyone can do it. You just have to want to do it,” Wahl said.
John Henn, 23, is also enjoying a new chance at life after finding sobriety.
“There’s been ups and downs where I should not be alive. There’s been circumstances and situations I never thought I’d been in and I’m just glad to be alive,” Henn said.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Department presented them with certificates of appreciation for making the change and helping the department with community outreach about fentanyl.
“We’re there to help, but what we want is people to help themselves. When we’re able to help people get the services they need that struggle lessens and hopefully their success ends up being a lot higher,” Sheriff Will Akin said.
In Clay County, fentanyl is an issue on the rise. Sheriff Akin says they’ve seen too many overdoses with young people losing their lives.
“One is too many. Oftentimes what happens is someone will try it and they will die. They will overdose. That’s what we’re trying to prevent,” Akin said.
Deputy Chris Johnson found himself on the other side of the issue. In November he was working at a casino while off duty. A woman overdosed after she thought she took Xanax but the pill was laced with fentanyl. After three shots of Narcan, CPR, and immediate aid. Johnson saved her life.
Shelby and John say stories like that remind them of how lucky they are to be alive.
“I’ve had several friends who have passed away from fentanyl overdoses and it’s just hard. I wish I could do something to help those who need it, but that’s the first thing – letting yourself know that you need help,” Henn said.
“Sober means everything to me. It means that there’s so much more out there for me that I couldn’t have when I was using. Being sober is everything to me,” Wahl said.
Awards were also given out to citizens who took part in the department’s Citizen’s Academy.
Deputies were recognized for stepping up and helping feed inmates during a crisis, and officers who responded to a man shooting at cars and were able to arrest him safely.