AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – The Fentanyl drug crisis continues to expand and decimate lives across our country. The toll the nation’s number one killer is having on families in an east Alabama community is devastating.
News 19 sister station WRBL met with Ray and Lee Hornsby. The Auburn couple bravely shared their story, hoping to help others avoid the sorrow they live with daily after their 17-year-old son died from Fentanyl poisoning.
17-year-old Price Hornsby graduated early from Auburn High. Intelligent in the classroom and talented on the wrestling mat, the son and big brother had plans to serve his country in the United States Space Force. Family and friends loved Price.
His life was just beginning.
“He had dreams. He had aspirations, and he had struggles. He was a good kid. He made one bad decision, and that decision took his life,” said Ray.
On the morning of March 26, 2021, Price’s mother, Lee, walked upstairs to wake her son.
“He sleeps with his covers over his head, and as I pulled the covers back, I immediately knew. In that very instant, your entire world turns upside down,” said Hornsby.
Price’s family believes he had no idea the pill he bought was laced with Fentanyl.
“He took one pill that had 11 times the lethal limit of Fentanyl, and we found him in his bed dead on a Friday morning. When you see your child dead like that, it’s a picture you never get out of your mind,” said Hornsby.
Price’s death and where he purchased the pill remains under investigation. Alabama does not have a criminal statute to charge someone with Homicide by a controlled substance. Lee County DA Jessica Ventiere supports enacting state laws holding dealers accountable for deaths from Fentanyl laced counterfeit drugs.
“Lee County is not immune to the Fentanyl crisis we see across the country. In just two years, we’ve experienced a dramatic increase in Fentanyl-related crimes and overdose deaths, especially in our older teens and younger adult population. Most alarming is that we see Fentanyl pressed into counterfeit pills. These pills look exactly like prescription drugs, such as Adderall, Xanax, Oxycodone, and Percocet. You cannot tell if drugs contain Fentanyl by look, taste, smell, or touch,” said Ventiere.
Families Against Fentanyl, using CDC data, reports Fentanyl overdose/poisoning is the number one cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 45 years old, surpassing suicide, vehicle crashes, COVID-19, and gun deaths. Fentanyl is odorless and tasteless; an amount similar to a grain of salt can be deadly.
The Hornsby family lives daily with the heartbreaking reality that one pill can kill.
“It’s something you never get over; you just have to figure out how to put one foot in front of another. Price holds responsibility for his choice, but it’s hard as a parent to see drug dealers not have any repercussions for their actions,” said Lee Hornsby.
This summer, Auburn police arrested three men after discovering Fentanyl, pressed to look like Xanax, during a search warrant. At the time of their arrests, Auburn police wanted families to know that 42% of pills tested by the DEA for Fentanyl contained a potentially lethal dose.
“I would just urge parents that this is a matter of life and death. Just like you talk to your kids about speeding, or when they are little and cross in front of a car and you panic and snatch them back, this is the same thing,” said Hornsby.
The Hornsby family urges others to reach out to lawmakers and urge them to address the Fentanyl crisis. Alabama House District 79 Representative Joe Lovvorn says he supports legislation aimed at protecting life and supporting law enforcement.
“Representative Chris Pringle from Mobile had a bill dealing with this issue a few years back. I feel it is a growing problem that we need to assist law enforcement in addressing in any way we can. I have not heard of any current legislation, but I am supportive of the idea, and I’m open to suggestions from our law enforcement and judicial partners and suggestions of how to keep our citizens safe,” said House District 79 Rep. Joe Lovvorn.
Narcan, or Naloxone, can reverse the deadly impact of an opioid overdose, including Fentanyl. Most law enforcement agencies carry the nasal spray to treat overdoses in their communities and protect their officers if they encounter the deadly drug while working. Anyone can purchase Naloxone from a pharmacy without a prescription.
“Talking to our young people about Fentanyl and other dangerous drugs is one of the best things we can do to keep them safe. Stress the importance that any prescription pill should come from a pharmacy with a doctor’s prescription,” said Ventiere.
Families Against Fentanyl is urging the United States to declare illegal Fentanyl and analogs Weapons of Mass Destruction, saying the opioid is more lethal than Sarin Gas, which has already been declared a WMD. Designating illicit Fentanyl as a Weapon of Mass Destruction would enable the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Department of Defense, and other relevant federal agencies to coordinate their efforts better.
Families Against Fentanyl report illegally imported fentanyl seizures in 2018 totaled almost 5,000 lbs., which is more than 1.2 billion lethal doses and enough to kill four times the population of the U.S. In the first six months of 2019, seizures went up. The U.S. DEA estimates less than 10% of all illicit drugs are being captured.
For more information, please visit: Families Against Fentanyl