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Mother of fentanyl overdose victim warns of drug's impact

Shawn Dewey
Posted at 9:53 PM, Aug 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-31 06:18:21-04

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Shannon Earnshaw never thought her son would become a victim of the fentanyl crisis until it happened one year ago.

“He didn’t like to take Tylenol or that type of stuff, so I never thought a pill would be a problem," explained Earnshaw. “He called someone that he thought he could trust to get, I don’t know what type of pill specifically, but it was a counterfeit to help him to get some sleep.”

Shawn Dewey took a pill that contained fentanyl and he died shortly after swallowing it.

Tragically, a fentanyl overdose killed Earnshaw's niece, Kaitlin, in February 2022.

"Less than a month prior, she tried to go get help, get into a rehab and she was rejected because she didn’t have insurance.”

Kaitlin and Shawn both died at age 25.

Law enforcement agencies have teamed up to fight the synthetic opioid.

The Joint Fentanyl Impact Team (JFIT) includes Homeland Security Investigations, Kansas Bureau of Investigations and the Kansas Highway Patrol.

"We identify, disrupt and dismantle these distribution networks and seize the drug so we keep our community safe," said Kansas City acting Special Agent in Charge Taekuk Cho. “We’ve actually had about four different seizures just in the past few weeks since we initiated JFIT.”

Cho said fentanyl is incredibly potent and investigators discovered it's being mixed in other drugs.

“We’re finding it marijuana, we’re finding it in cocaine, we’re finding it in heroin, we’re finding it in prescription drugs across the board," Cho said. "So when you consume a pill or some type of edible you really don’t know what’s in it. It could be fentanyl. You could overdose.”

Earnshaw holds onto a notebook with a written message from her son, “Never give up Shannon Earnshaw. We need you make it."

She's making it by spreading awareness of the dangers of fentanyl.

Earnshaw asks a question to the young people she talks to in area schools.

“Do you want your mom carrying an urn around with you in it?" asks Earnshaw. "You don’t want your mom to go through that.”