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A father's grief as Ohio opioid death crisis deepens

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 02:47

A grieving Ohio father says he's doing all he can to fight the opioid epidemic that's ravaging his hometown and that claimed his son's life more than a year ago. The state's Montgomery County now leads the U.S. in overdose deaths, with officials saying they're overwhelmed by the body count. Linda So reports.

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It's been 18 months now, but Scott Weidle is still struggling with the death of his son, Daniel. SOUNDBITE: SCOTT WEIDLE, SON DIED FROM HEROIN OVERDOSE, SAYING: "Got the call laying on the beach… worse day of my life." Daniel, a father of three, died from a heroin overdose in 2015, the day after Christmas. SOUNDBITE: SCOTT WEIDLE, SON DIED FROM HEROIN OVERDOSE, SAYING: "Just the perfect storm happened, he was left alone and relapsed." His father says he could never have imagined his son becoming a statistic in the country's growing opioid crisis... but now he knows it's impossible to avoid. Montgomery County in Ohio where the family lives has been identified by local officials as the overdose capital of America. NATS: AMBULANCE The synthetic drug fentanyl is ravaging communities here and driving up the death toll. Montgomery County is on pace to see 800 people die this year from a drug overdose. That's more than double the 370 some overdose deaths the county recorded in all of last year. SOUNDBITE: KEN BETZ, MONTGOMERY COUNTY CORONER'S OFFICE DIRECTOR, SAYING: "It's actually somewhat out of control. We've never and I've been here 40 plus years, experience the level of daily drug overdoses in my entire career." The county morgue is running at full capacity. And for those who have to perform the autopsies, it's a struggle to keep up. SOUNDBITE: KEN BETZ, MONTGOMERY COUNTY CORONER'S OFFICE DIRECTOR, SAYING: "They're burned out, they're tired. We can average almost 10 bodies per day in our facility where historically 5 bodies a day was a busy day… Our staff is just plain tired." Authorities in Montgomery County are trying to reverse the deadly trend through community engagement. But the man tasked with leading the cause for the sheriff's department says it's a tough sell for people hooked on the cheap but powerful drug that has largely taken the place of heroin. SOUNDBITE: CAPTAIN MIKE BREM, MONTGOMERY COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, SAYING: "Fentanyl is so much more potent than heroin. We've had addicts tell us they can feel the difference just by touching the needle inside the skin." A sad reality for those now working so hard to combat the rising tide of overdose deaths. But a fight Scott Weidle says is worth it for others who've lost loved ones... and now have only memories. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SCOTT WEIDLE, SON DIED FROM OPIOID OVERDOSE, SAYING: "I've watched him walk up to people he didn't know. People who looked a little desperate, down and out and he would go friend them. Something I wish I could do." But there is one thing he says he CAN do - tell his son's story to anyone who will listen in a state where as many as 10,000 people could die from an overdose this year.

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A father's grief as Ohio opioid death crisis deepens

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 02:47