Investigate Opioid Overdose Deaths as Homicide
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In Alabama opioid overdoses are classified as accidental deaths. With the rise of fentanyl and carfentanyl being mixed with heroin, this is strictly murder. Each Coroner should draw blood samples when no autopsy is being preformed, and the case should be investigated with due diligence as a murder investigation.
Our son Matthew Fothergill was found lifeless in a hotel room on November 8th, 2016 in Opp, Alabama. Matthew was a resident in a inpatient treatment facility for 21 months to combat his addiction. He was the father of 3 little girls. The eldest was only 6 years old and twin daughters were 2 years old at Matthew's time of death. Matthew was working out of state for a long distance trucking company in Alabama. Upon returning from a cross country haul the trucking company put Matthew in a hotel room with a "new" team driver.
The roommate brought heroin to the room, they used and Matthew became violently sick, he started having culvusions and vomiting. All symptoms of overdose. The roommate did nothing! He didn't call 911, he didn't alert hotel staff but instead what he did was evil- He packed up his belongings, loaded them in his personal vehicle and fled the State, returning to his home State of Kentucky.
Matthew's death certificate lists 4 causes of death. All were a direct and preventable cause relating from the overdose. They are as follows:
1. Cardiac arrest: This was because he couldn't breathe due to his lungs being filled with toxic gases and fluid.
2. Respiratory failure: This was because his oxygen was not mixing properly with the carbon dioxide in his blood. This was due to the vomit that filled his lungs.
3. Aspiration: This is because he was left on his back chocking and drowning in his own vomit.
4. Drug Overdose: Toxicology reports show opioids in his system.
In the State of North Carolina an autopsy is mandatory when the deceased is under a certain age. Alabama has no such law, in fact if an aautopsy is performed at the families request it will cost roughly 10k to 12k. Toxicology reports did show that our son had opioids in his system.
Matthews cell phone records prove who and when the drugs were brought to him. A few days after Matthews death the roommate contacted Matthew's sister and confessed to bringing the drugs and using heroin together. He acknowledged Matthew's emergency condition, but still choose to leave him there helpless for 12 hours before hotel personnel found him. This man was trying to explain to our family the unexplainable. Where is the justice for our son and other families just like ours?
Matthew's story is not alone. Angie Cheshire, an Alabama state resident buried her 33 year old son in July 2017, after his accomplishment of 18 months sobriety. She is now faced with trying to explain to her 8 year grandson why no one is getting in trouble for killing his Daddy. There is no closure for our families when justice is not being served. Angie also has a similar petition.
Alabama MUST change the current laws, Make autopsies MANDATORY when there are no pre-existing conditions such as cancer, Enforce investigations, prosecute, and enact good Samaritan laws.
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