SCRANTON (WOLF) — The opioid epidemic continues to take lives across our state.
According to the DEA website, there were more than 3,300 drug-related overdose deaths in Pennsylvania in 2015, any many of those are related to heroin. That’s an increase of 23 percent from 2014.
This statistic is hitting home for a Scranton couple who lost their daughter. But, in spite of their pain, they are hoping to help others. We spoke with them about how they plan to make a change in the new year.
Despite her smiles, Samantha Henehan’s mother believes “Sammi” was depressed. After putting her in rehab eight times, most recently seeing her leave one day short of completion, she and her husband were at their wits’ end.
“I went so far as to call a friend of mine who’s in law enforcement and I said, ‘I need her locked up,'” says dad Marty Henehan.
“The day we put her in jail, I cried so hard, you would have thought we lost her that day. I didn’t know a week later….,” says mom Stacy Henehan, trailing off in tears.
After about a week in jail, Sammi was released on a Friday. They asked for drug testing.
“She was due to go on colors on April 11, which was a Monday and unfortunately on April 10th, I had gotten a message once again that, we spoke to Samantha earlier today. We haven’t heard from her in a couple hours. We think she might be at this hotel,” says Marty Henehan.
The parents say they couldn’t go into the Moosic hotel due to confidentiality, but after 45 minutes, got an officer there.
Just a few miles from their home, an officer went into the hotel room and came back, saying something about “unfortunately.”
“I was going to say, not unfortunately, good, arrest her. Well then he said, ‘Unfortunately, she expired,'” says Marty. “I remember my wife collapsing. I remember a couple friends that I was with just kind of covering their heads.”
Sammi’s mom says unlike other obituaries that say someone passed away “unexpectedly,” she wanted to put in the real cause of death.
“Me and Samantha were very close and I just knew it was something she would want. I just knew it was,” says Stacy.
“We just wanted to stop the whispers and that’s kind of what our foundation says. Stop the whispers. This is real,” says Marty.
They say Samantha was sober from alcohol and pills for three years, and was a successful personal banker in Clarks Summit for a while.
“She helped a lot of young girls, a lot of girls who are still sober today, who attribute Samantha helping them through the early stages of their own recovery,” says Marty.
But Sammi relapsed, getting into heroin in her final two years, dying at age 23.
Her parents are planning a second rally this summer at the Lackawanna County Courthouse and say they’ve already helped pay for 10 addicts to go to sober houses.
“I believe that she believed that this would be the last time I could do something because I’m going on colors tomorrow, and she just accidentally did too much,” says Marty.
This time, the rally will be held on what would have been Sammi’s birthday.