Jose Hernandez, 13, may have died of accidental fentanyl poisoning after taking a pill his family thinks he got at school
by Audrey Conklin
The family of a 13-year-old boy from Aurora, Colorado, who died suddenly last week believes he may have accidentally overdosed on fentanyl, according to his family and local reports.
Jose Hernandez’s grandmother, Margaret Hernandez, described her grandson as “an energetic 13-year-old who loved life” in the description of a GoFundMe page titled “Funeral & Transportation for Jose Hernandez Mother” to cover costs for the boy’s funeral and travel for his mother, who currently resides in Mexico.
He had two younger siblings that he cared for and protected, he loved his family and “always had a smile on his face” and “left an imprint on the heart of everyone in our family,” she continued.
“We got to stop this pandemic of overdoses going on with fentanyl,” Abisaid Hernandez, the boy’s uncle, told FOX 31 Denver.
Jose Hernandez’s family believes he may have received a pill from someone on his way home from school, according to the outlet. Aurora Public Schools did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Fox News Digital.
The Aurora Police Department said the case “is still an open investigation,” so the department could not share any further information. The Aurora PD did say, however, that it is “always a good time to talk to your children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol,” and parents can visit cssrc.colorado.gov.substance-abuse to find resources to “help open up the conversation.”
“We learned there is a student who sells pills and marijuana to other students. That is where we believe he got it from,” Abisaid Hernandez told FOX 31.
Two days into his eighth-grade year on Aug. 10, Hernandez’s grandmother found the boy in the bathroom with his head in the sink after school. His mouth and veins were purple, and his skin was cold. The family attempted to perform CPR while dialing 911, but they said authorities did not arrive at their home until about an hour later.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is deadly in small doses and is more frequently found in recreational drugs, though some illicit drug manufacturers and cartels have pressed fentanyl into pills made to look like prescription painkillers.
“It’s ruining the community. It’s ruining our kids,” Abisaid Hernandez told FOX 31.
Hernandez’s uncle described the 13-year-old as a “good kid that was always friendly and made you feel like family.” He loved math and skateboarding and was not a drug user, according to his family.
A record 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses and poisonings last year, largely driven by synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An analysis of CDC data released in December 2021 by the fentanyl awareness group Families Against Fentanyl found that illicit fentanyl poisoning was the No. 1 cause of death for American adults between the ages of 18 and 45 last year.
Southern border seizures of the drug have soared in recent years. Customs and Border Protection seized 10,586 pounds of the drug in FY 2021. That is up from 4,558 pounds seized in FY 2020 and 2,633 pounds seized in FY 2019.
While it remains unclear how much fentanyl is entering the U.S., since that number refers to apprehensions of the drug only, the number of deaths related to the drug is increasing. The Drug Enforcement Administration warned earlier this year of a “nationwide spike” in fentanyl-related overdoses.
Experts suggest households have Narcan — a medicine used to treat narcotic overdoses — on hand to save those who ingest too much fentanyl.
Deceased Colorado 13-year-old Jose Hernandez’s uncle said fentanyl is ruining their community. (FOX 31 Denver)
Feature Photo: Jose Hernandez’s grandmother, Margaret Hernandez, described her grandson as “an energetic 13-year-old who loved life.” (FOX 31 Denver)
Jose Hernandez’s family believes he may have received a pill from someone on his way home from school. (FOX 31 Denver)