OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Surrounded by 29 years of memories of her son, Rylee, Lisa Carpenter Grant described the last time she saw her son alive.
“We spoke at 3:30 p.m. and everything seemed fine,” she said. “I made him stand up and give me a hug and a kiss. We embraced and said ‘love you’ back and forth.”
Hour later she said he was gone, found slumped over a chair in his room at their family home.
“I knocked on his door and I didn’t get a response – and [I knew immediately] that he was gone,” she said, tearing up. “I screamed his name as I shook him, and he was cold.”
In the interview with KFOR’s Ashley Moss, Lisa said her son had struggled with substance abuse addiction for nearly 15 years, and although their family had made every effort to help him through it, ultimately, it was not enough.
“Rylee made a mistake [that night]. He didn’t think he was going to die that night,” she added, noting that up until that point, Rylee had been Fentanyl free for 82 days.
“He was proud of his sobriety until the demons came back for him,” she said.,” she added. “He knew Fentanyl was going to kill him. We talked about it and he was afraid of it.”
Rylee Carpenter’s death is part of an alarming trend around the state and the country.
The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics confirmed Tuesday that 2021 data from the state medical examiner’s office showed 216 Fentanyl related deaths.
Additionally, The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration cite more deaths attributed to Fentanyl for Americans under the age of fifty than any other cause of death, including heart disease, cancer, and accidents.
In an effort to save lives, The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has designated May 10 as National Fentanyl Awareness Day.
“Fentanyl is killing Americans at unprecedented rates,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram in a video addressing the issue. “On this first ever National Fentanyl Awareness Day, please help save lives by making sure you talk with your friends and family about the dangers of this deadly drug.”
Lisa said her son was vibrant and creative and an artist until the end – a young man with vision, who hoped to return to grad school to become a photojournalist.
Reflecting, she said she and her family would remember him for how he lived, rather than how he died.
“Twenty-nine years of pictures and memories,” she said.” There was so much more to him than what took his life.”
Narcan is available to Oklahomans without a prescription, and it can sometimes prevent an overdose.