SAN ANTONIO - – Danica Summer Kaprosy from Selma was 17 years old and about to graduate high school with a full life ahead of her.
“She was allergic to certain foods and that was causing her body pain,” said her mom, Veronica Kaprosy.
Veronica said a year ago, Danica tried to self-medicate with pills she believes were bought on Instagram.
“So, she took what she thought was a Percocet and did not wake up. I found her the next day,” she said.
Danica died July 20, 2022, and since then, Veronica has been on a mission.
“To save a life. So other mothers are not sitting here in front of a camera telling their story of their child and how they were murdered by Fentanyl poisoning,” she said.
Veronica’s advocacy has landed her in front of Gov. Greg Abbott, State Rep. John Lujan, and Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, who brings her along when he visits schools to educate students about fentanyl.
“Fentanyl is the number one killer of 18 to 50-year-olds in the United States,” said Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor Peter Piraino, who is the CEO of Burning Tree substance use recovery facilities in Texas.
Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine. An amount as small as the tip of a pencil can be deadly.
The CDC reports fentanyl kills over 150 people a day in the U.S. That’s the same number that fills an average commercial airplane.
Fentanyl has overtaken both Paraino’s work and personal life. He lost a close friend to fentanyl just last week.
“Got some pills off the street, which he didn’t think was fentanyl and he’s dead,” Pairaino said.
That follows the death of another friend a year ago.
“He lived in another state. He had medical marijuana and he ran out, so he bought some off the street. It was tainted with fentanyl and he died,” Paraino said.
Paraino said Fentanyl is now laced into every type of drug, and that’s what he tells his 16-year-old son.
“You don’t want to scare your kids, you just want to provide them with the facts. And the facts are that every time they use drugs, they’re rolling the dice. They’re playing Russian Roulette,” he said.
Paraino said as the victims are getting younger, the stakes are getting higher.
“We have 15 and 16 year olds calling our help line trying to get help with fentanyl,” Paraino said.
Veronica said if she could go back, she’d limit her daughter’s access to the internet, where many kids find and buy drugs. She would have monitored her online conversations.
That’s why they say 12 and 13-year-olds may not be too young for this difficult conversation.
“I did speak to Danica about drugs. But I never knew anything about fentanyl to tell her,” Veronica said.
Veronica advised parents to brush up on their knowledge and share all of it with their kids, even the tough parts.
“Talk to them. Be sincere. Don’t yell at them or belittle them to where they don’t come to you,” Veronica said.
Both Veronica and Paraino said every teenager should be carrying Narcan with them, so they can help reverse fentanyl poisoning if it happens in front of them.
“Keep it on them, keep it in their car,”Piraino said.
Veronica and her husband felt the warning was so important that they allowed an advocacy campaign to place Danica’s face on a billboard, showing that fake pills can kill.
“People say, ‘That must be healing.’ It’s not healing to see my daughter up on a billboard, trying to save someone else’s life. It’s hard to see her up there,” Veronica said.
The pain feels impossible to surpass sometimes, but she pushes forward, knowing she has a real platform to create change.
“I need parents to talk to their children because they need to hear. Hear me. Hear my cries,” Veronica said, welling with tears.
Her family created the Forever 17 Danica’s Foundation in her honor.
In October, they are holding their first annual Soles Walking for Souls event to raise awareness, and she hopes the public will join.
She also is a part of a Facebook group for local families that have lost loved ones due to fentanyl poisoning, and invites others to join.