SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A bad batch of illegal drugs laced with fentanyl is believed to be behind nearly a dozen overdoses in the last month in Sioux Falls. Three people died. Two of them were close friends who worked together.
23-year-old Josh Steinfurth and 24-year-old Tanner Schultz each drove beer trucks for Beal distributing. Tanner’s 27-year-old brother, Tyler, also overdosed and was saved by Narcan. One night of partying and a bad decision has left a wave of pain and loss in its wake.
“What’s your name? Josh. Josh what? The mullet man,” a woman laughs in this home video:
“Anyone who knew Josh, knew him for his mullet. He was one who could rock the mullet,” Alicia Steinfurth said.
23-year-old Josh Steinfurth loved hutting, fishing and Enduro racing, just like his dad.
Alicia Steinfurth: Just all the light he shined on people.
James Steinfurth: There wasn’t anywhere he went that people didn’t like him— all of his goodness. Alicia: His love of life.
24-year-old Tanner Schultz doted on his 3-year-old daughter, Sophia.
“He loved that little girl, a lot. And she loved him. She asked her mom the other day, Do you miss my daddy? He’s up in Heaven. He’s watching over us,” Marcia Leonard said.
Josh and Tanner were not only co-workers, as drivers for Beal Distributing, they were also good buddies who shared a love of racing. The two, along with Tanner’s brother Tyler, went to the races on Friday, August 7th.
“Unfortunately I feel bad, because I usually go out there and I wasn’t there that night with him, but that’s what he loved to do,” Kip Schultz said.
The three were drinking and their parents say they have learned that at one point during the evening, the young men purchased a couple of pills that they believed were prescription opioids and crushed then up and snorted them.
“He wasn’t into that. it was just a night of partying and he lost his life over it,” Kip Shultz said.
It was out of character for the men because they were routinely drug tested on the job to maintain their truck driver’s licenses and hadn’t had any issues. When the three didn’t show up for a softball game the next day, their friends and family began to worry.
“I had a very empty feeling in my stomach,” Marcia Leonard said.
A friend went to go check on them at Tanner’s apartment at 4 p.m. the following Saturday afternoon. He found all thee unconscious, performed CPR and called for help.
“That’s when I walked in on it. It was a very tough day. They told me they’re both gone, is what they told me at the door, and they wouldn’t let me go any further. I was freaking out you know. Then I realized Tyler was still alive,” Kip Schulz said.
Tyler was revived with two doses of Narcan. Investigators believe the pills were laced with the synthetic opioid fentanyl and that’s what killed Josh and Tanner.
“I thank God that he saved at least one of my sons, because losing one is terrible. I couldn’t imagine losing two,” Marcia Leonard said.
“It’s hard dealing with the loss of Tanner, but now we’re dealing with Tyler, which is really tough right now, because he’s in a really bad place,” Schultz said.
“He has survivor’s guilt. He is like, ‘why did I live?’ Leonard said.
Not only are these two grieving families left dealing with the pain and confusion over how this could happen, all of Josh’s and Tanner’ s coworkers at Beal Distributing are in shock too.
“Here on Friday, you joked with them on Friday. You catch Snapchats from them on Friday night from the races. And Saturday afternoon you get the phone call. It’s just a bad dream you don’t want to go through” John Beal of Beal Distributing said.
Fellow drivers lined up their beer trucks at both men’s funerals.
“We’ve seen lots of support. They drove down Josh’s beer truck and another one. When we went to the cemetery all the beer trucks led the way,” James Steinfurth said.
These families say as difficult as it is, they are compelled to share the reason behind the loss of their sons, so that it can serve as a warning to save another life.
“I hear about it on the news, but I’m like, ‘that’s never going to happen to me.'” My kids are smarter than that,” Leonard said.
“I want the word to get out there that any prescription drug is not safe to take, period. If it’s not prescribed by a doctor, and somebody’s got it at a party off the street, or whatever, do not take it,” Schultz said.
“If this doesn’t send a message to any of those young kids, the next time it’s put in front of their nose, or under their face or offered to them, I hope they think twice about, thinking look what happened to Josh and Tanner,” James Steinfurth said.
Josh’s family is clinging to their memories of his generosity and their faith. Tanner’s mom is focusing on her granddaughter.
“She looks just like her father. She’s got blonde hair and blue eyes, so I’ve got that,” Marcia Leonard said.
The dealer who supplied the men with the pills has not yet been arrested, but Sioux Falls police are calling it an “active investigation.”
A 37-year-old woman also died of an overdose the very same week.
Monday is International Overdose Awareness Day. A memorial is being held at Ransom Church in downtown Sioux Falls to remember victims. It starts at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public.
The Beal family helped pay for both men’s funerals and is planning a memorial fishing tournament to honor them in the future.