For six long months, Andrea Scales didn’t know for sure how her only son died.
It took that long for a toxicology screen run by the state medical examiner’s office to come back with a ruling: fentanyl poisoning.
Someone slipped her son what he surely thought was a Percocet pill. Instead, the pill contained fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid similar to morphine, and it took his life.
Jeremiah “J5” Scales, an accomplished athlete at Parkland High School, was 19 years old.
“I knew nothing about fentanyl … one Percocet doesn’t kill you,” Scales said. “It was the last thing I ever expected.”
Now, a little over a year since she buried Jeremiah, she’s decided to see if she could save another mother from feeling the same crushing pain.
She allowed a photo of her son to be included on a month-long billboard campaign to educate and raise awareness about an epidemic that has killed thousands of North Carolinians.
“It just hurts … extremely painful to live without your only child,” Scales said. “Yes, I’m all for educating other people about it and doing whatever I can do.”
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