PIPESTONE, MN. (KELO) — Mother’s Day will be difficult this year for Tish Kalla.

She’ll be spending it without her 25-year-old-son Justin Rops who died of fentanyl poisoning in November.

The Pipestone mother of three was in disbelief when she found her son dead in the living room.

“He had struggled with addiction throughout the years, but he was in a good spot now. He was enrolled in an online school to become a special education teacher,” Justin’s mom Tish Kalla said.

In April, more sad news hit the small town.

Cody Enger’s mother says her 26-year-old son died of suspected fentanyl poisoning, but she’s waiting on a medical examiner’s report for confirmation.

The Pipestone community doesn’t want any more families in the area to deal with this kind of loss.

On Monday, former KELO-TV anchor Angela Kennecke spoke to Pipestone Area high schoolers about her daughter Emily, who died of fentanyl poisoning in 2018.

“We feel there is an important to letting kids know when they’re young that fentanyl is dangerous and any drugs that they consume are not a good option,” Pipestone Area High School counselor Ellen Dullas said.

No community is immune from the problem.

“It can happen to anyone. I’m a special education director. I’ve been in education. I was a school counselor. I was a special ed teacher prior to this job. There is no social class that is left out of this problem. It can happen to anyone at any time, and I think it’s important that people understand that,” Kalla said.

As Kalla helps raise awareness about the problem, she’s remembering Justin who was not only a son, but also a brother and a friend.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, use the resources below.


Avoid Opioid

Emily’s Hope