A 13-year-old boy died from a suspected fentanyl overdose just two days after starting the eighth grade.
The grandmother of Jose Hernandez told Fox 31 Denver that she found the teen with his head hanging from the bathroom sink in their Aurora, Colorado home earlier this month.
“When I saw him dead, I started screaming,” Margarita Hernandez said.
The teen’s mouth and veins were purple and his body cold, Jose’s uncle Abisaid Hernandez told the outlet.
They tried to revive him, but it was too late.
The Hernandezes believe Jose was given a fentanyl pill by a classmate without understanding the danger the drug would bring.
The “energetic” teen took the pill likely out of curiosity, Abisaid said.
“We got to stop this pandemic of overdoses going on with fentanyl,” Abisaid said. “It’s ruining the community. It’s ruining our kids.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 108,000 people in the U.S. died of drug overdoses between February 2021 and February 2022. Of those, more than 70% involved fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.
In 2021, over 71,000 people in the US died from overdoses involving fentanyl and synthetic opioids, up 23% from 2020. That number accounts for roughly 66% of the overdoses in the county that year.
The Aurora Police Department told the Post that the investigation is still open as its Crimes Against Children Unit detectives wait for Jose’s toxicology report to come back, which is expected to take several more weeks.
“The detective may be looking into where the kiddo got the drug, if it was indeed the drugs, because we don’t even know that yet. But once that happens the detectives will determine what the next steps are,” a spokesperson said.
In addition to his grandmother and uncle, Jose leaves behind two younger siblings and his mother, Damaris Hernandez.
Margarita, who has been raising her three grandchildren since 2013, is raising money on a GoFundMe page to bring Damaris to the states from her home in Mexico to attend her son’s funeral, as well as cover the burial costs.
“He loved family and always had a smile on his face,” Margarita wrote. “Jose would express and show his kindness to everyone in his community, including strangers. My grandson has left an imprint on the heart of everyone in our family.”