Teenager Thought He Bought a Percocet. It Killed Him

Zach Didier lost his life to fentanyl
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2022 1:10 PM CST
Teen Who Wasn't a User Died of an Overdose
Zach Didier thought he was buying a couple Percocet pills.   (Getty Images / buradaki)

In the wake of a 17-year-old's perplexing death, a soccer teammate offered his parents a clue. Zach Didier—an Eagle Scout and school-musical star who died of a suspected overdose—had no history of drug use or any evidence of drugs in his bedroom. But he had once said something about taking a Percocet pill to the teammate. As Devlin Barrett writes in a lengthy piece for the Washington Post, Zach's family passed that detail on to the local prosecutor’s office. An undercover drug investigator showed up at the family's Rocklin, Calif., home, opened Zach's phone, and found the dealer he had messaged on Snapchat in minutes. Zach had purchased a couple of Percocets—or so he thought. The pill that killed him turned out to be 100% fentanyl.

Zach's death points to a different but very real class of OD deaths, says his father. "When people hear the words fentanyl and overdose, what they understand is the old war on drugs, and people suffering from addiction. And not to take away from those who struggle with substance abuse, but the new demographic is people who unwittingly consume fentanyl thinking they are taking a harmless product." DEA chief Anne Milgram says that social media is a hotbed of drug activity, and that people are often unwittingly targeted. "We see this all the time—people will be in a chat about something they care about, a concert or something, and dealers will come in and try to connect with these people." Milgram says social media sites are falling down on the job; a rep for Snapchat pushes back, saying it is "unwavering" it its work to root out fentanyl sellers. (Read the full story to learn what happened to the dealer who sold to Zach.)

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