During his time as an Ontario County deputy, coroner and licensed funeral director, Kevin Henderson has commiserated with many parents who lost a son or daughter from a drug overdose.
Now the county sheriff, Henderson and District Attorney Jim Ritts — who also has been involved in many of those heart-wrenching conversations — want to do more to bring justice to those families, some of whom Henderson and Ritts knew before the overdose.
“The perception of some people, and I hear this in the community, is if they are an addict and they are choosing to use (drugs) and die, that is the risk they are willing to take,” Henderson said during a recent interview with Ritts at the DA’s office. “I would tell these people to talk to a true addict. They are not waking up in the morning and saying ‘I’m going to be using today and want to be an addict.’”
“They have a terrible disease. It’s a challenge for an addict to become clean,” the sheriff added. “Jim and I sit and talk with their families. We talk and listen.”
“Kevin and I have known way too many of these people. These are good kids. This isn’t ‘the other side of the tracks’ kind of thing,” Ritts said. “This problem is just invasive in every community, and it is killing good kids. Those kids really should be at the beginning of a great life, but for some reason they are dealing with emotional pain in a dangerous way.”
Henderson and Ritts spoke to the Times shortly after a Gorham man, Donald Everson, was charged with manslaughter in the overdose death of 31-year-old Justin Meath last October. Police believe Everson sold fentanyl to Meath and another person just before both overdosed.
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