KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Two separate families lost more than one person amid a rash of deadly fentanyl overdoses in the city of Kalamazoo, News 8 has learned.
In a 24-hour period on Thursday, the Kalamazoo County Health Department reported at least 18 overdoses, including six deaths, five of which occurred within the city.
Those who died ranged in age from 32 to 58 and included one woman and five men.
Sources, including police, neighbors and relatives of those who died, confirmed to News 8 the victims include a husband and wife from one family and two cousins from another.
A neighbor told News 8 that the husband and wife, both in their 50s, overdosed and died at their home on North Rose Street Thursday. Another neighbor said the husband loved to fish and the wife used to give out popsicles to kids who picked up the couple’s front yard.
A different Kalamazoo family confirmed to News 8 that the cousins who died, both men, overdosed in vehicle on Vine Street Thursday.
“The city is bleeding right now,” said Chan Pratt, uncle to Steve Williams, 32, the younger of the two cousins. “It’s hurting. … We have to do something, and if you know anything, call Silent Observer. Reach out to somebody because someone knows who’s putting this poison into people’s hands.”
To reach Silent Observer call 269.343.2100.
Steve Williams’ mom, Margaret Anderson, vowed to find out who gave her son cocaine laced with deadly fentanyl.
“Whoever gave it to him, I’m going to pray for you,” said Anderson Friday. “(My son) would do anything you needed done. He loved his family, his children, his community. … He walked the walk. He gave to the poor. He gave to people out of his heart.
Williams’ long-time girlfriend described him as an “angel on earth,” who was working hard on his recovery journey.
She said Williams had gone through drug court and stayed clean for two years, getting a job, a house and a vehicle, but he faltered once he finished probation.
“When you are clean for so long, there’s that time when you feel like you can do it, and you can stop. That was that time,” said Williams’ mom.
His sister, Codia Collier, said Williams was a “renaissance man” who could take care of anything.
“I wish (he) had one more chance,” said Collier, her voice breaking with emotion. “He cared so much for other people. More than he cared for himself.”
Williams’ mom said he loved fishing at the Allegan Dam and doing carpentry work, often offering his services for free to people in need.
Anderson said her son had lost a brother and struggled with alcohol and cocaine abuse.
Now, Williams’ family is calling on police and prosecutors in Kalamazoo to identify, arrest and charge anyone peddling deadly fentanyl-laced drugs.
Anderson is also urging families who have lost loved ones to fentanyl to join forces and support one another as they fight for justice.
She encouraged people to contact her through her Facebook page, Marg Pratt.
People in the Kalamazoo area struggling with substance abuse can reach out to Integrated Services of Kalamazoo at 269.373.6000 or Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health at 800.781.0353.
You can also call the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline at 1.800.662.HELP (4357) or find treatment on SAMHSA’s website.