DALLAS, Texas – Almost every night, Victoria Ketter and her family gather in the only place where they can still be with their son.
It’s been nearly two months since he got the call that his eldest son, Johnathan Helmke, was found dead after taking what he believed to be Percocet.
“It’s a day I relive every day. I relive it every day in my head, in my dreams. It’s kind of a replay,” recalled Ketter, who, in the days that followed, learned that the pill Johnathan took in It actually contained fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that has become the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 45.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), it is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. And as in the case of Johnathan, he is often disguised as something else.
“Johnathan wasn’t a drug addict. It wasn’t like he was a heroin addict and he got a bad batch that contained fentanyl. Johnathan took a pill and within minutes it claimed his life, and he had no idea what he was doing.” I was consuming”, he explained.
Denton police recently arrested Bryson Towers and Joshua Adams and charged them both with felony charges for allegedly supplying the fentanyl that killed Johnathan. Still, Ketter worries about others: “I don’t want to see another parent suffer like we do.”
In the weeks since her son’s death, Ketter has channeled her grief into a mission. On August 21, he will host the first annual fentanyl awareness and prevention event in memory of Johnathan at 1 pm in Pavilion Three at North Lakes Park.
A 6-year-old girl in the town of Wheat Ridge, Colorado, saved her mother’s life after she was unconscious under the effects of fentanyl inside her car.
The event will include fun for kids, like bouncy houses, snow cones and Spiderman, and education for teens and adults, including the chance to speak with a narcotics officer and hear from other mothers who have buried their children.
“We have banners that stretch 40 to 50 feet long with all the babies that we’ve lost to this,” he said.
That includes her Johnathan, whose memory she is determined to keep alive.
“Even if a life is saved, I’ve done my job. I’ve done something,” Ketter stressed.