British Columbia

Fentanyl overdose death triggers a mother's plea for action

Ryan Pinneo fought to beat addiction, detoxing twice at home, only to die - slumped over a chair in his bedroom - from an accidental fentanyl overdose.

'Why are we not doing something about this? This is killing our kids,' said Sandra Tully

Ryan Pinneo's mother said her son was charismatic, athletic and hid his addiction from even his closest friends. (Kirk Pinneo)

A Kamloops, B.C. mother who helped her son fight addiction, only to lose him to fentanyl, wants others to learn from the tragic death of 22-year-old Ryan Pinneo.

Sandra Tully said her son often slept late as he worked the nightshift, but she went in to check on him to find the charismatic basketball player slumped lifeless over a chair. 

Ryan Pinneo (far right) with his brother Jason and parents Kirk Pinneo and Sandra Tully. (Sandra Tully)

Her son had admitted that he was addicted to OxyContin and detoxed at home several times, Tully said, before he accidentally took a fatal dose of a pill — laced with a fatal amount of fentanyl — on Jan. 20, 2016.

B.C. has seen a a ten-fold spike in fentanyl-related overdoses since 2012, with approximately 139 people dying from overdose in 2015 alone.

"If this is so prevalent why are we not doing something about this?" said Tully.

"This is killing our kids. We need to be out there talking about it. I think there is some shame attached to it."

Stop downplaying says mom

That shame is helping kill children, said Tully who refused to hide how and why her son died.

She chides people who downplay drug use in Kamloops.

As adults Jason and Ryan Pinneo remained close. (Kirk PInneo)

"If I can save one kid ... I don't want Ryan's death to be for nought," said Tully. "I have dragged kids down that dabble in more than just a little bit of pot and I've sat them down on his bed and said this is real life. I don't have my son anymore and I don't want your parents to go through what we are going through so please just stop."

She said Ryan was from an average family and looking forward to a future. He had been honest about his addiction with his mother.

The night before he died she refused to give him a light for a smoke — wanting him to be safe.

I found him slumped in his chair

"He looked at me and he goes, 'Why you gotta be like that mom?' And I knew he was on something and I was like, 'Why you gotta take drugs Ryan?'" said Tully.

She cried as she recalled what she found the next morning.

"I slowly opened the door and I found him slumped in his chair."

A week later the Coroner's office confirmed that Ryan had a fatal amount of fentanyl in his system.

The pills he took looked exactly like OxyContin, said his father Kirk Pinneo.

"It's everywhere," said Pinneo.

Ryan Pinneo carries his brother Jason on his shoulders in happier times. (Kirk Pinneo)

To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: Fentanyl overdose death triggers a mother's plea for action.


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