GEORGETOWN, Texas — The number of Texans who died from fentanyl-related overdoses jumped 89% from 2020 to 2021. State agencies are still collecting data for 2022, but the grim trend is expected to continue.
One Central Texas father, Cody Ivins, knows the pain behind the statistics. His son, Layton Ivins, who was a Georgetown High School sophomore, died on Jan. 22. The family is still waiting on the toxicology report, but Layton's death is a suspected fentanyl overdose.
"Just the people who were on the scene knew what it was. I mean, law enforcement deals with this so much, it's almost – they show up, they know what's going on," Ivins said.
Ivins describes his son as "super smart," "talented" and "always beaming with positivity and smiling."
"He would never leave anybody without saying I love you. That's always how he ended conversations, so it's a huge hit to our family since he's passed," Ivins said.
Data from the Texas Department of State Health Services shows the number of fatal overdoses in Williamson County doubled from 2019 to 2021, increasing from 33 to 66. Williamson County EMS reports it saw a 20% increase in presumed opioid overdoses between 2020 and 2021. They are in the process of compiling data for 2022.
Gov. Greg Abbott addressed the fentanyl crisis during his State of the State address.
"We must do two things: call fentanyl deaths what they are, poisonings, and prosecute them as murders," Abbott said. "We must also increase the supply of lifesaving Narcan, so that we can save more Texans who are ambushed by fentanyl."
Ambushed is a feeling Ivins knows all too well after a death that he said came "completely out of left field."
"They get curious, and unfortunately, you know, kids nowadays don't have that luxury to be curious because there is stuff like this that's killing people, killing kids," Ivins said.
Now, Ivins takes this "new normal" day by day, hoping to spread awareness for his son's sake.
"It changes everything, you know, because I still want to worry about him and know where he's at, but I know he's at, you know, he's not coming home," Ivins said.
Leaders with Georgetown ISD say they are partnering with the Williamson County Sheriff's Office narcotics unit to raise awareness about fentanyl. They will offer a program for all middle and high school students this spring.