Beaverton family turns tragedy into lesson on dangers of fentanyl

Fentanyl is flooding our local communities and the crisis is also impacting teens.
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 5:58 AM PDT
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BEAVERTON Ore. (KPTV) - Fentanyl is flooding our local communities and the crisis is also impacting teens.

Law enforcement said drug dealers are targeting teens on social media – and the outcome could be deadly.

One local school district is educating families about the dangerous drug.

A Beaverton family has turned their tragedy into their lifelong mission.

“When Cal died, we knew very little about fentanyl,” Jennifer Epstein, a Beaverton School District (BSD) parent and advocate, said.

They lost their teenage son, Cal, in December 2020 to fentanyl poisoning. They said he bought what he thought was a painkiller from a drug dealer on social media.

Now, they share their son’s story as a warning to other families about the dangers of fentanyl.

“Two and a half years ago. This sort of information wasn’t available. There were no, the D.E.A. One Pill Can Kill campaign hadn’t started,” Epstein said.

“Fake & Fatal: One Pill Can Kill,” that’s how Beaverton School District describes the dangerous counterfeit pills circulating in our very own communities. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) joined BSD Thursday for a community conversation to educate families about how fentanyl – often times in the form of a fake pill – is getting into the hands of teenagers.

“Well, if you’ll look here, you’ll notice three different snapshots of Snapchat messages,” Sgt. Daniel DiPietro, of WCSO, said. “Fentanyl is so cheap, it’s so addictive, it’s so available, they’re putting it in everything.”

Educators warn fentanyl has drastically changed the drug landscape.

“Some kids are going to experiment with drugs. And so that it normal, unfortunately, though, the days of experimenting and no harm being done are over,” Kristen Gustafson, a BSD health educator, said.

Cal’s parents said their advocacy is a way to honor their son, continue healing, and save lives.

“I have no doubt that this is what he would want us to do,” Epstein said.

BSD also provides middle and high school students fentanyl- specific lessons as part of their advisory or health class.


And Senate Bill 238 passed the house Thursday, which would make more comprehensive alcohol and drug instruction mandatory in schools. It heads to the governor’s desk next.