KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Family and friends are coming together to remember a Kansas City teen lost to fentanyl.
More than 100 people gathered Friday night to remember 16-year-old Ethan Everly.
Brandon Everly, Ethan’s dad, says fentanyl is the most dangerous poison out there. Clay County Sheriff Will Akin agrees. He said the drug is a growing problem, and the agency is investigating Ethan’s death and where he got the pill from.
Everly said his son was popular. He had his own car and worked nearly full-time, but it didn’t keep him from falling victim to the extremely powerful drug.
His friends Xavier Motko and Tucker Sturgill were rocked by his death.
“He’ll forever be missed. It’s just terrible,” Motko said.
“He just started growing up. He got his first car, his first actual job. He was happy,” Sturgill said.
On March 21, his father said he found his son in bed and called 911.
“I went to wake him up to go to work, and I found him in his bed unresponsive and barely breathing,” Everly said.
The night before, what he didn’t know was Ethan took a fentanyl-laced pill, not understanding it could kill him.
“It will kill you,” Akin said.
The Northland sheriff said fentanyl is a growing problem in Clay County. A few years back he said four employees of the department had to be treated for an overdose after coming into contact with the drug at work.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse recently reported drug seizures of fentanyl went up 50 times in the past four years. The drug is considered 30-50 times stronger than heroin.
The danger lies not only in the drug’s strength but also how it is produced for the street. A small amount of the drug can kill someone nearly on contact. When produced and laced, the drug is not evenly placed. A person could share a pill, and one person could die in minutes and the other could be fine.
“It’s not drug addicts that we are seeing overdose on fentanyl. We’re talking about kids 15-24,” Akin said.
Ethan’s father wants parents and kids to know his story could be anyone’s.
“They’re not made in a laboratory. They don’t come from a pharmacy. These are made in someone’s kitchen or bathroom by someone who is not a licensed chemist,” Everly said.
“It’s definitely an eye-opener for all of us not to do it,” Sturgill said.
Ethan was hospitalized for five days before he lost his life. As an organ donor, he was able to save five other people’s lives with his heart, liver, lungs, pancreas and kidneys.
“It means that he didn’t die in vain and that he was able to do some good on top of his grave mistake,” Everly said.
“Don’t forget because this is unfortunately going to happen to someone else. If we don’t forget and keep this in the forefront of everything that we do, then at least we can reach someone else,” Akin said.
Everly’s family is planning his unexpected funeral. If you would like to help this family during this difficult time, there is a fund for his service.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Department and Tri-County Mental Health Services Inc. are holding the event “One Pill can Kill” later this month. It’s a community drug education summit. The public can learn about fentanyl and other drugs threatening the lives of Clay County residents and youth. There will also be information on addiction and drug treatment resources.
If you would like to attend it will be held at 6 p.m. April 25 at Vineyard Church at 12300 NW Arrowhead Parkway in Kansas City.