Goddard woman who lost sister to fentanyl overdose says legal change could’ve made difference

A new study found that fatal overdoses among teens in the U.S. has nearly doubled since 2019.
Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 10:35 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A new study found that fatal overdoses among teens in the U.S. has nearly doubled since 2019 , with fentanyl largely to blame for the increase. The study showed fatal overdoses among adolescents rising from 492 in 2019 to 954 in 2020. That’s an increase of 94 percent. It’s impacted many in Kansas, including Lauren Hoffine who lost her sister to a fentanyl overdose. Now, she’s trying to spread awareness of the dangers that teens face when getting involved with the dangerous drug.

Eighteen-year-old Autumn Hoffine was a sister, a daughter, an aunt and a best friend. Lauren Hoffine said a year ago, friends introduced Autumn, her younger sister, to fentanyl. She died at the end of March after taking a deadly dose of the drug while out with friends.

“I got a call at one o’clock in the morning from my dad that my sister had passed. And so the next morning, I spent the day talking to the homicide detective, the coroner, and just all of these people, trying to figure out what exactly happened, what we needed to do,” Lauren Hoffine said.

Now, Hoffine’s family is trying to pick up the pieces and warn how highly addictive and deadly fentanyl can be. Hoffine said it’s Kansas legislation that needs changed in order to save more teens’ lives. Kansas currently does not have a Good Samaritan law for drug overdoses. Such a law would offer protection to someone with drugs who attempts to save someone else who is overdosing.

“When someone’s overdosing with them, they’re waiting, they’re wanting to clean up their drugs or they’re wanting to clean up the area before they have police and firemen and EMS come out, or they’re not calling at all so they don’t get in trouble themselves,” Hoffine said.

She said that is what happened to her sister. When she was overdosing, people with Autumn waited to call for help. Hoffine believes that was in fear of legal repercussions.

“If you get the person help immediately than the Good Samaritan law can help,” she said. “I think that if you wait and you clean up and/or leave the person, I think there should be consequences for that.”

If such a law were in place in Kansas, Hoffine said she believes her sister would still be alive.

Police are investigating Autumn’s death as a homicide and her family is hoping for answers in the next few weeks. Hoffine also stressed that if someone you love is struggling with addiction, reach out, see how you can help, provide resources, and in some cases, carry Naloxone, a life-saving medication that can reverse a fentanyl overdose.

If you need help, addiction services are available in Wichita and the surrounding area. Those include:

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