Protest aims to raise awareness about growing fentanyl problem

People whose loved ones have overdosed planned to gather Friday afternoon in Springfield.

Posted: Oct 22, 2021 3:13 PM
Updated: Oct 22, 2021 9:04 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Family and friends of people who have overdosed held a protest in Lane County Friday afternoon.

Organizers said they want to raise awareness about the growing problem of fentanyl use and dealers. Protesters were on Main Street in Springfield from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. They gathered just outside of the Thurston Townhouse Apartments, where there were two alleged drug overdose deaths at a single apartment between July 30 and October 8 this year.

RELATED: Springfield apartment sees multiple overdose deaths, arrests over 3 months

Detective Justin Myers with the Springfield Police Department said no arrests have been made tied to these ongoing investigations. Myers shared what charges could be made against a person who deals fentanyl that ends up killing someone.

"You have possession, delivery of drugs, if a delivery of drugs to an individual and that individual overdoses, there's potential criminal liability," said Myers.

Parents of teens who overdosed and allegedly died of fentanyl said they were at the protest to raise awareness, including Amber Covington, whose son died on Oct. 8.

"I feel like the crowd that he got into most recently got him into the drugs, and had he not been hanging out with the person that he was hanging out with, he would have never done anything like that," said Covington.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, they saw a 70% increase in Oregon drug overdose deaths during April and May last year.

MORE: More than 800 arrests made in DEA crackdown on fentanyl-laced fake pills

This is why parents like Sarah Vail were there to raise awareness about what happened to her daughter, who she said died of a fentanyl overdose last year. 

"Mckenzie died on May 31 of 2020 from taking a single pill that she thought was oxy that she got from a friend, and it ended up being pure fentanyl," said Vail.

Sister Morgan Vail is also pushing for change after losing her sibling.

RELATED: How one woman created a network to support the families of those struggling with addiction 

"It's really scary to see how quickly it's taking over our community. And something needs to be done about it and I think more people need to be aware about what's in their drugs," she said. 

Toxicology reports are still pending for the fatal overdoses at the Thurston Townhouse Apartments, and the investigation is ongoing. Anyone who has information can call 541-726-3721. Springfield Police also have an anonymous tipline, 541-726-3773. 

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