Several people dealing heroin laced with fentanyl are serving federal prison time. They are responsible for many overdoses and even deaths.
Now a Sioux Falls man is facing federal charges, with up to life in prison, for distribution of heroin or fentanyl resulting in death; a death that happened nearly two years ago.
23-year-old Aaron Wodzinski is also charged with providing heroin to a second victim on May 6, 2019, causing serious bodily injury. Wodzinski was indicted by a federal grand jury.
He is accused of providing the heroin laced with fentanyl that killed 21-year-old Cole Thompson on April 24, 2018.
Cole’s talks about dealing with her son’s death and how she has now joined the millions of grandparents raising children of the opioid crisis.
“Cole and I were really close,” Connie McDougall said.
That’s why Connie says she sensed something was wrong with her son in April of 2018.
“I knew he was in trouble. There were warning signs,” McDougall said.
While she didn’t know what he was using, she was trying to get him help.
“On the 23rd, I tried to get him put in somewhere. He didn’t have insurance and I didn’t have a lot of money to put down. I just wasn’t able to get him help in time,” McDougall said.
Connie found Cole dead in his bed on April 24. He had used heroin laced with fentanyl.
“I have a lot of post traumatic stress. That’s what I have the hardest time with. I have that vision in my head. The thought of him dying alone, all by himself–is what really breaks my heart.”
Connie says new charges, against the man accused of supplying Cole with the deadly drug, does little to ease her broken heart.
“To me it’s poisoned. And to me it’s murder. It shouldn’t have happened.”
There is a part of Cole that remains here on earth, his daughter Avalon, born six weeks after his death.
“I’m very fortunate to have her. It’s a piece of Cole. She acts a lot like him. She brings me peace.”
Connie has joined the 2.5 million grandparents raising children of the opioid crisis whose parents are either addicted, in prison or dead.
“I’m 47. I’m starting over. with a 2-year-old now and she’s very busy.”
Connie says Avalon’s mother is also an addict who gave up her parental rights when Avalon was three-months-old.
“I don’t know how she’s going to be 10 years down the road, not having any parents. She’s surrounded by a lot of love. A lot of people are there to love her. But she’s never going to have Cole’s arms around her.
Avalon does get to hear her father’s voice saying, “I love you,” in this recording placed in a teddy bear.
“I always said I loved him to the moon and he always said, I love you more.. or love you more.”
Aaron Wodzinski has a criminal drug history with state convictions going back to 2016.