One pill can kill: Parents raising fentanyl awareness after son dies featured on Barton webinar

Ashleigh Goodwin
Special to the Tribune
Laura and Chris Didier pose for a photo with their son Zachary.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Laura and Chris Didier, parents of three, knew nothing about the fentanyl crisis until it exploded in their Rocklin home.

The Didiers were featured on Tuesday, June 7, at Barton Memorial Hospital’s monthly wellness webinar, “Surviving in the Age of Fentanyl Poisoning.”

Fentanyl is an opioid so powerful that only a few grains could be fatal.

The Didier’s youngest son, Zachary, 17, bought a counterfeit pill online pressed and stamped to look like Percocet. He died within a matter of minutes of taking the counterfeit pill, also known as a FentaPill, that he thought was prescription Percocet.

He was found by his father, Chris Didier, who immediately began CPR. Tragically, the counterfeit Percocet held a fatal amount of Fentanyl. Toxicology results showed no Percocet in his system but instead showed acute fentanyl poison as cause of death.

Laura Didier said Zach was “the youngest of three, a tremendous son, boyfriend, friend and musician. He even taught himself how to play the piano.”

The Didier’s shared a touching video found only after the unexpected death of their son. Jake, the family dog, perches on the back of the couch behind Zach, seated at the piano. “Ready,” He looks at Jake. He launches into a beautiful presentation of his self taught talent.

“So that’s our boy,” Laura said “As hard as it is to start with this video we feel it’s really important because it’s very important for everybody to see this is who is dying from fentanyl right now in our country. Kids like this. Everything that made him so special he really captured in this video that he made.”

This video was recorded a few months before his life ended. It is a raw display of his talent, playfulness, love for his family, and his intelligence. What happened to Zachary, unfortunately, is happening to middle school, high school, and colleges across the country at an alarmingly increased rate.

“An amazing child firing on all eight cylinders and successful in so many aspects of his life,” Chris Didier said and added, “academically, athletic, lead in school play, active in community projects and scouting.”

Zach was not battling addiction, did not have any history of drug use, substance abuse, or struggles with depression. He did not overdose on Percocet after extended use. The coroner explained to the Didier family that fentanyl poisoning would most likely be found as the cause, given Zach’s age, good health and drug-related deaths surpassing 100,000. Many of 100,000 deaths were people under the age of 25.

“We’re not trying to distance ourselves from people who struggle with addiction and depression too because they are also victimized and deceived into a death situation related to Fentanyl,” Zach’s dad said. “Fentanyl does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter your socio-, economic situation, gender, age, race, religion, your successes or failures. We’re all vulnerable and need to talk about it.”

The numbers reported by Sacramento, Placer and El Dorado counties show 40% of all pills confiscated test positive for fentanyl.

In 2021, the number of people killed by fentanyl overdose could fill Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco.

The counterfeit pills are made in imitation of something else with the intent to deceive in order to groom new addicts to become repeat customers for their counterfeit drugs. That is also known as poisoning, not an overdose. A poisoning is when something is deceptively disguised as something else for another to consume without their knowledge or consent.

Song For Charlie and Void are two organizations that the Didier’s partnered with to spread the message of the fentanyl crisis to everyone. Song For Charlie’s website hosts educational resources for schools and communities to save the lives of America’s youth by educating them.

On the Song For Charlie website a video found on the home page titled “What’s a FentaPill Real Talk About Fake Pills” describes the dangers of these FentaPills. It is a fake prescription pill that looks just like the real thing but contains Fentanyl.”

Song For Charlie and Void both provide resources on how to talk to your children, students, and others about the very real dangers of counterfeit pills. They also provide support for families who have been left in the wake of a tragic poisoning.

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