13-yr-old boy dies from fentanyl overdose after getting pill from classmate
The grandmother of Jose Hernandez discovered the teenager with his head slumped on the toilet sink of their Aurora, Colorado house
AURORA, COLORADO: A 13-year-old boy died from a suspected fentanyl overdose two days after starting the eighth grade. His family said he got the pill at school. The grandmother of Jose Hernandez said she discovered the teenager with his head slumped on the toilet sink of their Aurora, Colorado house earlier this month. “When I saw him dead, I started screaming," Margarita Flores-Valesquez said.
The teen’s mouth and veins were purple and his body cold, Jose’s uncle Abisaid Hernandez told Fox 31 Denver. The family tried to revive the teen, but it was too late. The family attempted to perform CPR while dialing 911, but said authorities did not arrive at their home until about an hour later.
The Hernandez family believes Jose was given the fentanyl pill by a classmate at Aurora Public Schools without understanding the danger the drug would bring. The “energetic” teen took the pill likely out of curiosity, Abisaid mentioned.
“We got to stop this pandemic of overdoses going on with fentanyl,” Abisaid said, adding, “It’s ruining the community. It’s ruining our kids.” He told Fox 31 Denver, "We learned there is a student who sells pills and marijuana to other students. That is where we believe he got it from."
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 108,000 individuals in the US died of drug overdoses between February 2021 and February 2022. Of those, more than 70% concerned fentanyl and different artificial opioids. In 2021, over 71,000 people in the US died from overdoses involving fentanyl and synthetic opioids, up 23% from 2020. That number accounted for roughly 66% of the overdoses in the county that year.
The Aurora Police Department said investigation into the teen's death remains open and its Crimes Against Children Unit detectives are awaiting Jose’s toxicology report, which will come in a few weeks.
“The detective may be looking into where the kiddo got the drug, if it was indeed the drugs, because we don’t even know that yet. But once that happens the detectives will determine what the next steps are,” a spokesperson said. In addition to his grandmother and uncle, Jose leaves behind two younger siblings and his mother, Damaris Hernandez. Margarita, who has been raising her three grandchildren since 2013, is raising money on GoFundMe to bring Damaris to the states from her home in Mexico to attend her son’s funeral, in additon to covering the burial cost.
The Aurora PD said it is "always a good time to talk to your children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol." Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is deadly in small doses and is more frequently found in recreational drugs, though some illicit drug manufacturers and cartels have pressed fentanyl into pills to make them look like prescription painkillers. The Drug Enforcement Administration warned earlier this year of a "nationwide spike" in fentanyl-related overdoses. Experts suggest households keep Narcan, a medicine used to treat narcotic overdoses, on hand to save those who ingest too much fentanyl.