RAPID CITY, SD -
It sounds unthinkable; watching a friend suffer and not calling for help. Sadly and shockingly, a growing number of teens and young adults are dying of drug overdoses while their friends stand by, too scared of getting in trouble to seek medical treatment.
A Rapid City family is fighting to prevent others from suffering the way they have by spreading the message that Friends Don't Let Friends Die.
Last summer, Dustin Kueter was entering the prime of his life. He turned 18 in May, had a summer job and was looking forward to the future.
"He graduated May 31 from Stevens High School and then he wanted to be a chef, so I probably would've had him in school to be a chef," mother Nancy Kueter said.
But instead of looking at programs and filing for financial aid, Nancy Kueter says her son got mixed up with the wrong people. On June 18, he and his girlfriend were in his room when another person brought drugs into the house. Dustin took the pills and started having an overdose.
"Instead of calling for help or even coming upstairs to get me up, they knew he was in a coma, they knew he was in distress, they knew he was dying, they put wet towels on him, turned him over, shook him, and left him," Nancy said.
Dustin's girlfriend finally went up to his mom's room hours after Dustin had taken the drugs. When Nancy got to his bedside, her son was unrecognizable.
"He was already blue and purple, he was gone. He was long gone," Nancy said.
Dustin was found in his room with a large amount of prescription pain killer in his system, a drug that wasn't prescribed to him that no one is sure he took willingly. That's something his family never got the chance to ask him.
Now, his mom and sister, Jessie, are left to wonder if he'd still be here if the people who said they were his friends would've spoken up.
"It's horrific, it's disgusting. What they did to him. Watching him for God knows how long, hours I believe. It's, I can't even imagine how they could watch him gasping for air, in a coma. Shaking," Jessie Kueter said.
Now, the two women have joined a growing group of families in the Friends Don't Let Friends Die movement, aimed at raising awareness about drug overdoses and how important it is for friends to seek help before it's too late. It's something they wish Dustin's peers didn't have to learn the hard way.
"He would want people to know who their true friends are, and he would want them to know who they have surrounding them if they're going to be there to protect them or not, I think he would want people to be aware of who their true friends are," Jessie said.
"I wait for him to come home, I don't sleep. It makes me sick knowing people can just watch people die and not get help," Nancy said.
An unthinkable reaction to a problem facing so many that this family hopes to prevent from happening again.
None of Dustin's friends have been charged for possessing or using prescription drugs.
Find more information on the Friends Don't Let Friends Die movement
© 2010 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.