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'Dead is dead. . . but we can help people': Meet the Fond du Lac parents working to prevent overdose deaths

Posted at 6:29 PM, Feb 02, 2024

FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — Sue Fischer's son Kevin was only 39-years-old when he died of an overdose.

Fischer has lived in Fond du Lac her whole life and raised her kids here. Her son Kevin died in 2020 after taking Oxycontin pills laced with fentanyl while living in Seattle.

“It's a lot and to be that far away from home and to have your son sent home in a box,” Fischer said.

Across the nation, and in northeast Wisconsin, young people are dying from opioids.

Here in Fond du Lac, a group of parents is speaking out in hopes of saving others their grief and suffering.

"Addicts are everybody,” said Fischer said. “Everybody knows one. Everybody has lived with one or everyone is related to wine.”

After her son's death, Sue and her daughter held a fundraiser in 2022 to bring awareness to the opioid crisis.

There, she met other parents who had lost a child to overdose, including Mary Huberty and Bill McIntosh

“This pain that I've had to go through and the rest of my family,” Huberty said. “It's just so unbelievable. He was a good person that got into something bad and couldn't get out of it.”

Mary Huberty's son Nathan was 41.

Bill McIntosh's son Peter was also 41.

“It was very tragic. . . and it's just, it's really kind of hard to talk about,” McIntosh said.

With the $8,000 raised from Sue's event, the parents are now working for change with the county health department.

They're buying kits with narcan, fentanyl test strips, a cpr mask, and information on resources.

They plan to share them with local businesses so they're available in an emergency.

“I'm not condoning [drug usage],” Fischer said. “But if you can test your drugs before you do it, I would prefer that than to die.”

The parents say their kids all died from overdose on drugs laced with fentanyl.

"Synthetic fentanyl is much more potent than heroin, about 50 times stronger; and then we say about 100 times stronger than morphine,” Sarah Grandinjan, the Fond du Lac County Health Department Community Health and Prevention Supervisor, said. “So, a very small amount can be deadly.”

According to the county health department, there were five synthetic opioid deaths in 2016 followed by a spike in 2020. In 2022, there were 16 deaths

“Dead is dead,” Fischer said. “We can help people. People can change and live wonderful lives. That's what I want. No one should have to lose a child.”

Narcan kits and training are available through the health department, and this group plans to continue to distribute them to local businesses.