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With more than 115 people dying of opioid overdoses every day, America is in the midst of one of the worst drug epidemics we have ever seen. For one woman, however, statistics became a tragic reality when she lost two children to oxycodone overdoses on the same night.
In an interview with CNN, Becky Savage recalled the day that changed her life forever. On June 14, 2015, the nurse and mom of four tried to wake up her 18-year-old son Jack, only to find him unresponsive. He and his brother, 19-year-old Nick, had attended high school graduation parties the night before, but when Savage called for Nick’s help in waking Jack, he didn’t respond either.
“[Jack] was unresponsive. I called 911, and I remember hollering for Nick, for him to come up, and how he never came,” Savage told CNN. She called 911 for Jack, unaware that downstairs, one of Nick’s friends had also called 911, after realizing that Nick was unresponsive, Patch reports.
After first responders arrived on the scene, both of the boys were pronounced dead. The cause of death? Accidental overdoses of oxycodone and alcohol, Today reports, from the graduation parties. In one terrible night, Savage had lost two of her sons.
(Photo: The Savage sons pose in their jerseys. Courtesy of Becky Savage)
It’s a tragedy that’s become all too common. Since 1999, drug deaths have skyrocketed 200 percent, CBS News reports, from under 17,000 in 1999 to 52,000 in 2015. In 2016, more than 115 opioid overdoses occurred each day. The disturbing trend prompted Trump to declare the opioid epidemic a “national shame” and a “human tragedy” last year.
Since losing her sons in 2015, Savage, along with her husband and two remaining sons, have dedicated their lives to educating parents and teens about the dangers of opioids. In 2017, they launched the 525 Foundation. In honor of Jack and Nick, whose hockey jersey numbers were 5 and 25, they share their family’s story.
“By me telling their story, they’re still able to make a difference in the lives of others. There can’t be a better goal than that,” Savage told CNN.
Savage estimates that she’s spoken in front of 23,000 students, CNN reports. By teaming up with local law enforcement to hold pill drop-offs — opportunities for people to safely dispose of their unneeded prescription drugs — Savage has helped collect over 1,500 pounds of pills. She hopes to create a safer community by installing permanent pill drop-off boxes. Earlier this year, Savage’s advocacy led to her testifying about the opioid crisis in front of the United States Senate, ABC 57 reports.
On February 8, Savage reportedly asked a room full of senators, “How could two boys who have always seemed to make such good decisions in life make such a choice that would ultimately cost them their life?”
Her testimony that followed reportedly had a profound impact on all who were gathered, with Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly telling ABC 57, “Becky and Mike and their family are one of the great inspirations in my life.”
In a piece for Today, Savage opened up last year about losing Jack and Nick and urged parents to cherish the time they have with their children.
“Bad choices are made by people every day, and unfortunately [Nick and Jack’s] cost them their life,” she wrote. “What I want you to remember, as parents is that every moment with your child is a moment to cherish and remember. Each moment is creating a memory, and those memories are priceless.”
(Photo: Family photo of the Savages, courtesy of Becky Savage)