SAN DIEGO — The father of 18-year-old Kai Atesalp, who died of fentanyl poisoning in July, is sharing his grief and a powerful message about the deadly consequences of fentanyl.
“Kai was found on the 14 of July, right after we woke up. His 12-year-old sister was the one who first saw him. Kai had passed after being poisoned by fentanyl and inducing a seizure in his sleep,” his father, Ramsey Atesalp, said Tuesday during a news conference.
They are sharing Kai’s story in hopes of saving other lives after he unknowingly ingested what he thought was Percocet, bought on Instagram.
“Kai was a good, kind kid never really got into any trouble and always focused on sports and academics,” Ramsey said. “He wasn’t known as a partier.”
About 2,100 people died from accidental overdose last year – more than half due to fentanyl, most had no idea they were ingesting the colorless, odorless and tasteless deadly substance.
Dr. Angela Huskey, chief clinical officer for Millennium Health, says the number of young people dying from fentanyl is an epidemic.
“Each week, the equivalent of a classroom of students dies from a fentanyl overdose across the country,” Huskey told FOX 5. “Most of the young victims ingest fentanyl accidentally and unknowingly, thinking they’re taking something much less dangerous.”
She was joined by United States Congressman Scott Peters and others at Mesa College Tuesday as students head back to school to get the word out and get resources into the hands of those that need them.
“Parents, the new drug dealer is a smartphone,” Huskey said. “Children, teens and young adults can get pills delivered to them via social media as easily as ordering an Uber.”
She says a lethal dose of fentanyl is equivalent in size to just a few grains of salt. According to the DEA, 60% of counterfeit pills contain a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.
“It’s impossible to know which pills which will be deadly,” Huskey said, adding, “pills in the same batch can have varying degrees of fentanyl in them.”
Kai was six weeks away from starting a full-ride wrestling scholarship at Iowa State. His parents talked about drugs and alcohol and concerns of fentanyl. They even had narcan at the house.
“The guy who poisoned our son knew the pill was counterfeit and laced with fentanyl,” Ramsey said. “Our son never tried it before. Somebody was greedy enough to knowingly deceive our son just to make $8 that ended up killing the greatest young man that I’ve ever met.”