LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -A major issue in the opioid crisis in the U.S., is the increasing presence of fentanyl in illegal drugs like heroin. It’s a horrific loss to families when a loved one dies. But it is also a devastating tragedy when a loved one suffers severe brain injury and then needs extensive and long-term medical care.
Twenty nine year old Casey Guillory overdosed on fentanyl-laced heroin in April 2019. He almost died and is now in a nursing home in Jackson, Louisiana. His family is heartbroken that, due to severe brain damage, he will never be the same.
Betty Guillory, of Westlake, is his grandmother.
“It’s totally taken him away from us because he was so full of life, and happy and talented. He will never be the same. There’s no coming back. It might improve, but he’s gone forever. Our Casey is gone,” she said.
His father, Robert Williamson, says symptoms started with severe muscle pain and cramping and nearly ended up fatal. He struggles to find the words.
“He had so much promise. To see him where he couldn’t even hold his head up or even hold a spoon and feed himself,” said Williamson, sighing.
Casey’s family members want others to know heroin and other drugs laced with fentanyl are here in Calcasieu Parish and urge families to beware. Charlotte Hanks is Casey’s sister, who oversees his care.
“We want to let other people know that this drug is dangerous and that we don’t want this to happen to your family member or your loved ones or your friends," she said.
Besides the shock and tragedy of the injury, there are many other issues to deal with.
“Like the long-term care, the funding, the change in his life. He’ll never have that full life and his life expectancy is lowered as well from a brain injury,” said Hanks.
Family members also believe little if anything is done to identify those who peddled the drugs that injured or killed someone.
“Fentanyl is dangerous and it’s cheap and it’s an easy way to add to the heroin to make the same money that they’re used to making. And like I said the drug dealers don’t care,” said Williamson.
“There’s no investigation that has been done. What we’ve experienced is that if you’re a repeat offender they just kind of wash their hands of you at some point,” said Hanks.
Family members say they are unaware of any arrests stemming from the drugs sold to Casey.
The family expects to struggle for the rest of Casey’s life to try to find the best care and to pay for it. Click here to hear more about Casey’s story and a way to donate to help deal with costs. The family hopes telling about their tragedy will save someone else.
We plan to speak with Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso this week about the opioid epidemic and its impact here in Calcasieu Parish.