Knoxville group sees effects of drug overdose deaths

Local News

There’s a cross for every death at a memorial that grows almost daily, updated by members of a drug overdose support group. 

The memorial, set up on Saturday, grew by four purple hand-painted crosses in just four days. 

“That represents some family’s loved one, they were a person. They had likes, they had dislikes, they had hobbies and now they’re gone,” said Sharon Hajko. 

Hakjo’s son Justin died in 2017 from a drug overdose. She hopes the work she’s able to do with the overdose support group will help others. 

“That somewhere, somehow we’ve got to come up with something to slow this down,” said Hakjo. 

She says it’s a full-time job she wishes she didn’t have, knowing that for every cross, another family is experiencing what she knows, what others know, all too well. 

First responders are seeing the impacts of the opioid epidemic too. 

The Rural/Metro Fire Department has administered opioid antidote Narcan 659 times so far in 2018. That’s down from this time last year, but spokesperson Jeff Bagwell says it doesn’t mean there’s not a problem. 

“It does weigh a toll when it’s drug overdose, after drug overdose, after drug overdose,” said Bagwell. 

He says Rura/Metro crews respond to drug overdose calls daily, sometimes multiple in one day. 

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