WEXFORD (KDKA) — Several hundred people turned out Thursday night at St. John & Paul Catholic Church in Wexford at a meeting focusing on an increase in overdose deaths because of the opioid epidemic.
U.S. Attorney David Hickton, of the Western District of Pennsylvania, began the meeting.
“We are in the middle of the worst drug epidemic in the nation’s history; in Allegheny County last year, there were more than 400 fatal overdoses recorded by the Medical Examiner’s Office,” he said.
Hickton explained the heroin problem can’t be solved by law enforcement alone, saying that everyone has a role to play to try to prevent the abuse, and to raise awareness through better education about addiction.
Sandy Kotwica, of Washington County, lost her 30-year old son, Chip, when he lost his battle to heroin addiction four years ago this week. Kotwica said he had a wonderful son, who loved to play soccer, baseball, football, and golf in school.
Then, he was injured, and a doctor prescribed pain killers. That, she said, was the beginning of his downward spiral into addiction.
“My son would look in my eye, and lie to me, my son, who I was so proud of,” she said.
Kotwica found her son’s body, emotionally telling the audience “he was lying on the floor, kneeling, with his head on the sofa, and a tourniquet around his arm; the body of my son, who I loved with all my heart, he was gone, dead for days.”