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Mom speaks out on the dangers of fentanyl after son's overdose death

Quintenn Clark.png
Posted at 9:53 PM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 06:21:40-04

ASHLAND CITY, Tenn. (WTVF) — More than half of drug overdoses in Nashville are linked back to fentanyl.

It's not just a Metro problem, it's all across the state. One mother knows this unfortunately too well.

Tonya Garton buried her son a year ago after a fentanyl overdose.

She says her mission now is to help save more lives.

"My 20-year-old son, Quintenn, passed away on March 2, 2021, from a fentanyl overdose," Garton said.

There's not a day that goes by Garton said she doesn't think about her son.

Quintenn Clark played football and baseball. Garton said he was a good kid and never got into trouble.

This was until he was introduced to Xanax as a senior in high school.

"He got kicked out of high school and... small colleges were looking at him for baseball. He lost all of the baseball. He couldn't join the military at that point," Garton said.

Garton says her son was sober for a full year in January but she noticed that he was starting to act a little erratic by February.

It was that March day when she got the call that Clark wasn't breathing.

Clark joins a growing list of people killed from a fentanyl overdose. It's a synthetic opioid pain reliever that has been the main driver in the increased number of drug overdose deaths in Middle Tennessee.

"Cheatham County, where he lived, had the highest in the whole entire state overdoses at the time," said Garton.

The Cheatham County Sheriff's Office said so far this year, there have been 11 deaths and more than 50 fentanyl overdoses.

Less than 60 miles east in Nashville, nearly 80% of overdose-related toxicology reports in 2022 have detected fentanyl.

Just this week Metro Nashville Police Department released information that three men were found unresponsive from suspected fentanyl overdoses. Two men died.

Joshua Wolfe, 34, of Elkhorn, Nebraska, and Karl Smith, 25, of Lac la Biche, Alberta, Canada, died. The survivor, who was revived after being administered Naloxone, is a 26-year-old friend of Wolfe and is also from Elkhorn, Nebraska.

Detectives are reviewing downtown surveillance footage in an effort to determine who, if anyone, may have sold or given the victims an illicit drug. The surviving victim has met with detectives but said he does not remember what took place.

"All we can do is continue, continue, continue to bring more awareness to this," said Bruce Hill, the founder of Recovery Warriors What Was Is No More, a nonprofit organization helping those struggling with addiction. Hill said one time he was an addict and now he wants to help others.

"If we don't get this back in our schools, and start teaching these children what's going on? We're not going to make it," Hill said.

Hill would like to see Tennessee teach students the dangers of drugs as a curriculum.

As for Garton, she has started the Quintenn Clark Foundation in memory of her son.

"We started it with a thought that we could reach just one person, just one person. Then his death wouldn't be in vain," Garton said.

The foundation’s purpose is to provide resources for the treatment of addiction, community awareness and support for families affected by addiction, and education for drug abuse.

For those seeking treatment for drug addiction, the Community Overdose Response Team (CORT) can help.

CORT is a free and confidential resource to help find drug and alcohol treatment for individuals who are at risk of an overdose.

The service is offered free of charge regardless of health insurance status. The team works with an individual to determine the appropriate level of care (e.g., detox, residential, or outpatient treatment, etc.). To make a referral or learn more about this resource for our community, call CORT at 615-687-170.