Fighting Fentanyl: San Antonio father who lost daughter to fentanyl issues warning to parents

‘When you send your kids off to college, it’s like they’re still in danger,” Mark Fahlsing says

SAN ANTONIO – Over the last few years, you’ve heard more about the opioid crisis. More than 930,000 Americans have died from an overdose since 1999, and 75% of those deaths involved opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, has made an already bad situation worse. The CDC said overdose deaths rose by 399% from 2019-2021 in Texas. That figure hits home for one father who lost his daughter to fentanyl last year.

“She played trombone in high school. She was a sight reader, so she could read a sheet and then just start playing it,” said Mark Fahlsing.

Fahlsing’s face lit up when he spoke with KSAT about his daughter, Jesse Fahlsing. The 18-year-old math major at UTSA had dreams of becoming a doctor.

Jesse Fahlsing was also a gifted martial artist who trained other kids and loved animals.

Tragically, she was found dead in her college dorm on Nov. 23, 2022. Investigators found pills in her room. The Bexar County Medical Examiner ruled fentanyl toxicity as her cause of death.

Mark Fahlsing told KSAT he wondered if his daughter took pills because she had been stressed and wanted to take her mind off schoolwork. He said Jesse didn’t struggle with addiction and wouldn’t knowingly take fentanyl.

“Even two weeks prior to her death, she was handing out Narcan to the people on the street and talking to them about it,” Mark Fahlsing said.

Narcan is a medication used to reverse or reduce the effects of opioids.

Mark Fahlsing is trying to focus on all the good things Jesse did for her community through volunteer work and teaching kids. He also wants parents to warn kids about fentanyl.

“This stuff will kill you with no warning. When you’re parents like us, when you send your kids off to college, it’s like they’re still in danger,” he said.

KSAT spoke with UTSA about what happened with Jesse Fahlsing. The university released the following statement:

Our university community was deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Jesse. Officers from the UTSA Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division are working closely with the Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate Jesse’s death, determine how the fentanyl was obtained, and hold those responsible for supplying the drug accountable.”

Watch the second installment of the Finding Fentanyl series Wednesday on the Nightbeat and the third on the News at 6 on Thursday.

About the Author:

Stephania Jimenez is an anchor on The Nightbeat. She began her journalism career in 2006, after graduating from Syracuse University. She's anchored at NBC Philadelphia, KRIS in Corpus Christi, NBC Connecticut and KTSM in El Paso. Although born and raised in Brooklyn, Stephania considers Texas home. Stephania is bilingual! She speaks Spanish.