Aug. 24, 2022 – Chicago-area resident Karen Zander lost her 22-year-old son John Allen to fentanyl poisoning. Zander said in 2016, Allen made the choice to snort cocaine that his best frined spiked with fentanyl, which ultimately killed him.

“These choices that they’re making, they’re not able to learn from their mistakes because they’re dying,” said Zander. “It’s time for us to wake up and to get this stuff off the street,” said Zander. 

Another Chicago-area resident, Caitlin Strebing, says her 35-year-old brother Ryan accidentally overdosed on fentanyl last year. She now advocates for substance abuse disorders and fentanyl awareness.  

“Fentanyl is the leading cause of death in the U.S. right now for ages 18-45 and I think that alone speaks for itself,” said Strebing. 

So far, there’s no sign of this deadly trend stopping. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office still utilizes their refrigerated trailers for morgue space and can handle all the bodies for now.