NEW INFO: Young Man's Death is a Wake-Up Call

By: Brooks Jarosz Email
By: Brooks Jarosz Email

UPDATE 6/21/10 @ 9:45 p.m.
RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Many young people are hooked on prescription drugs that could cost them their lives, as was revealed with the recent death of Justin Hafer.

The 22-year-old former Ravenswood High School football star died just earlier this month.

Hafer's family says he was found dead in his room -- just a day before he was going to admit himself to rehab.

Drugs like Fentanyl patches for people with chronic pain are now a commonly abused narcotic -- one that was found near Hafer's bed.

Drug abuse experts urge parents to keep prescription drugs such as painkillers locked away from youths.

The Jackson County Drug Coalition says the best advice is for parents to be part of their kids lives and know where they're going and who they're hanging around with.

RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A young man's life was quickly taken away because of an addiction to prescription drugs.

Justin Hafer, 22, was found unresponsive last Tuesday morning in his bedroom.

Friends and family joined together at a Ravenswood funeral home Tuesday afternoon to celebrate Hafer's life.

"He always had a good, upbeat personality," Hafer's friend Stephanie Dequasie said. "He was always happy and like a big brother figure to me. He was my best friend. He always had my back."

Hafer's friends say he wanted to turn his life around and was even going to take his mother out for lunch to tell her he was admitting himself into rehab for 90 days.

Unfortunately, the day before he could take her out, he was found dead with prescription drugs and used Fentanyl patches near his bed.

Hafer was once a Ravenswood High School football star and described by his friends as a person who just loved life.

"When he hugged me and said 'I love you' I didn't think that was going to be the last time that I saw my best friend or talked to him," Dequaise said. "We're all going to go down a different path and stay sober."

His family says small mistakes and this prescription for abuse is what Hafer's family says tragically took his life.

"A lot of shock, I don't know if it's really sunk in yet," Hafer's cousin Courtney Speece said. "It's going to take everyone pulling together to get through it."

"It's the hardest thing I've ever went through in my life," Hafer's friend Chris Carter said. "I hope this wakes up Ravenswood because there's nothing but an epidemic going on here."

A drug epidemic of drugs like Fentanyl patches are becoming more and more commonly used among teens and young adults.

"You don't have to go out and look for a drug dealer to find over-the-counter medications," Jackson County Anti Drug Coalition Director Rhonda Davis said. "You can just go to friends house, a relatives house and look through what they have."

"We can only learn from it and grow and pray that it changes at least someone's life," Dequaise said. "I hope that we don't have to go to another one of our friend's viewings or funerals."

"The town needs a wake up and maybe this is what it will take," Hafer's mother Roselee Hurst said.

Hafer's family hopes Justin can be a lesson for others to learn from.

The Jackson County Drug Coalition says many times it starts with parents or family members who are prescribed the narcotics.

"These are one-time addicts," Davis said. "You could do it once and die, so it's just better not to even touch it or be around it."

Davis says it's best to lock up drugs prescribed to you or at least keep them well out of sight.

The Hafer case is under investigation by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, which is awaiting toxicology reports to confirm if drugs actually caused the young man's death.

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