Downey dad rallies for son who overdosed on fentanyl
May 8, 2022
A Downey family held a rally on the corner of Lakewood Blvd and Firestone Blvd on May 7 to bring awareness to Fentanyl, a drug that killed one of their family members in April.
About 10 family members and friends stood in front of the Citi Bank, 8764 Firestone Blvd, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, waving signs with information reading about the drug that killed their loved one.
Former Downey High School student Andy Dally Chavez, who graduated in 2020, died from a fentanyl overdose on April 20 during his stay at a sober living home.
His father, Andy Chavez, said that he [his son] struggled with fentanyl addiction throughout his teenage years and had finally sought help through a rehabilitation center.
“He became addicted to fentanyl at 18 and when he began his recovery I knew I wanted to be there for him through it.” his father said, “He was a great kid, smart- one of the nicest kids ever.”
Chavez [father] said that he and his son had planned to host a rally in light of raising awareness for the drug but never did in fear of judgement. He said that he decided to host it, now, without fear and in honor of his son’s unfortunate death.
“Fentanyl is a man-made synthetic drug that is very strong, and some of it the size of about a grain of sugar can kill you,” Chavez said. “There’s actually other drugs coming out that are spinning off from fentanyl, and they’re even stronger and getting people even more addicted.”
“We need to be aware of these drugs killing our children and advocate for law changes because, currently, there are none protecting those from possible lacing.” Chavez added.
He later said that his son was living in a sober living home when he passed, where recovering addicts typically stay after finishing their time in a rehabilitation center. He said that they think the overdose may have been caused from potential lacing in the drug.
Erica Chavez, Chavez’s sister, said that her nephew [Andy] was 80 days clean leading up to his death.
“It’s a sign for us- for parents to be more aware of what’s going on with our kids,” Erica said. “Even if they aren’t involved with drugs, we need to pay more attention to them.”
The family later added that the sober living home covers up many of the overdoses and drug handling that occur in their facility despite being a place for sober addicts and that they had no clue of Andy’s relapse until his death.
Brenda Chavez, a family member, said that she hopes local parents will use Andy’s situation to take the step of sparking a conversation with their child(ren) and talk to them about the risk of drug intake.
“It’s one conversation that can change everything,” Brenda said. “Instead of being angry or seeking blame in the case that they do get involved in drugs, we need to try to be there for them, they can’t do these kinds of things [recovery] on their own.”
As people passed by their rally on the corner, the family would inform them on fentanyl, its effects on users and encourage them to help others get the help they need.
One bypasser shared her story with the family in regards to her relationship with fentanyl; She said that she had a family member who now suffers from being paralyzed and comatose after an overdose.
“One thing I think all families should do is keep narcan in your home or in your car because you never know,” Brenda said. “You never know when you might need it. You could potentially save a life.”
The family rallied in light of Fentanyl Awareness Day on May 10. They hope that others battling their addiction, or have a loved one who is, may seek help in their journey and raise awareness to further inform others.