Fentanyl awareness: family speaks out about son's death

By Tanya Cronin
February 11, 2016 - 4:26pm Updated: February 12, 2016 - 11:45am

KAMLOOPS — A Kamloops mother says it's the been the most horrifying experience of her life, an experience she and her family will never recover from.

On January 20th, Sandra Tully's life changed forever when she walked into her son's room, and found him dead.

22 year old Ryan Pinneo died after overdosing on the drug Fentanyl.

The tragedy has ripped her family apart, and now Ryan's parents are speaking out in the hopes of sparing another family from enduring a similiar nightmare. 

WATCH: Full story by Reporter Tanya Cronin

"I opened the door a little bit more and I saw him slumped in his chair, and he was passed away."

A chilling discovery that no parent can ever imagine, and for Sandra Tully it is the last picture she has of her 22-year old son.

"I'm sure I screamed many times, and Jason comes running in and he tried to move his brother to save him, and I called 911," says Tully.

Ryan Pinneo died of a Fentanyl overdose. For over a year and a half, the young charismatic, athlete, had been battling an OxyContin addiction. But 3 weeks ago, the 80 milligram pill Ryan ingested was laced with a lethal dose of a drug, 100 times stronger than Morphine.

"We received a call a week later from the coroner saying he had a fatal amount of Fentanyl in his blood system that he could not survive from. We suspected something was laced, he has done OxyContin before, we have detoxed him out of it," says Kirk Pinneo, Ryan's Dad.

Sandra and her husband Kirk had tried to help their son conquer his addiction. They say Ryan didn't know he was taking Fentanyl that night, and now they're speaking out, in the hopes others can learn from his tragic death.

"Ryan was just an average kid and I don't want his struggle to be tainted that he's somebody in an alleyway shooting up because that wasn't Ryan. There's bad drugs out there," says Tully.

Since 2012, BC has seen a spike in Fentanyl-related overdoses. Last year alone, nearly 140 people died, 57 overdoses were here in the Interior. Ryan's parents say the drug is prevalent in every community, and what tore them apart, could happen to any family. 

"People need to be very aware that it's out there on our streets. I've listened to programs where Interior Health is saying we haven't had any overdoses, and I'm saying they're not making it to your door to use them as a stat for overdose. These kids are dying in their homes."

Ryan was a strong 6'3 young man, who kept jobs and had a good group of friends that will forever be touched by him. Sandra says the night before her son died, he was high on something and she refused to give him a light for a cigarette, hoping he would stay safe.

"He said why you gotta be like that mom, and I said why do you have to do drugs Ryan, and that was really the last thing I said to him, which is really hard because it's not the last thing I would want to say to my son."

Sandra and Kirk aren't hiding how Ryan died, saying the dangers of Fentanyl needs to be talked about, and parents shouldn't feel ashamed. For them, it's more important to save another family from the same heartache. 

"I don't get to watch my son grow up anymore, I don't get to see him move on with his life, that's really hard. So if it can be for anything, if it can save another family and get some kid thinking I'm not going to take that, whatever is being offered to me, because I heard about Ryan, then it's worth it," says Tully.

EXTENDED: Full interview with the family

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