by Yami Virgin
SAN ANTONIO — Losing a child is undoubtedly the most painful thing a parent will go through, but when it’s a senseless death caused by a counterfeit pill, like Charlie Ternan, parents decide to fight back.
Investigative Reporter Yami Virgin shows us how these parents are fighting their son’s death at the hands of drugs in ‘On the Frontline with the DEA’.
“Charlie was 6’2. 230 He was a gentle giant. He had a lot of friends. They call HIM the glue because he'd bring all his friends together. When Charlie was around, everything was better,” says Mary Ternan, Charlie’s mother.
Charlie had his whole life ahead of him. He was about to graduate from college. Things couldn’t look more promising.
“He was having back issues. And so he trusted a friend and they trusted social media. He thought he was getting a Percocet. And it was a counterfeit, poisonous pill. You just don't ever think anything's going to happen to your child like this,” says Ternan.
Charlie had taken a fake Percocet cut with fentanyl and died. His parents Ed and Mary Ternan were thrown into the world of drug trafficking and its latest killer trend fentanyl.
“When Charlie died. What we learned pretty quickly was that a lot of young people are dying from the same cause - counterfeit prescription pills that have flooded the U.S. market and they look as realistic as they can make them. They know that there's a demand for these pills in order to maximize profits instead of trying to get the real ones which are really hard and expensive. They make fake ones and they use the most powerful, raw material they can find which is fentanyl," says Ed Ternan, Charlie’s father.
From their loss the Ternans created a project called “Song for Charlie” with one goal; to bring awareness to counterfeit prescription pills being sold online targeting young people.
“When we kind of woke up from our shock of Charlie's death and started connecting with other families and we said to ourselves, we need to tell the world about this, the cartels pass them off as Percocet – Vicodin - oxycodone. There's also a whole lot of fake Xanax out there that look just like the real thing,” says Ed Ternan.
Charlie’s parents are dedicated to informing young adults, parents, and educators about counterfeit pills like the one that killed their son in May 2020 and close to 100,000 people last year. The DEA has been hitting the message hard on why you should never take any pills that are not prescribed to you and bought from a legal distributor like a pharmacy.
“The DEA administrator recently came out with a program, highlighting the abuse of fentanyl, and the slogan for it is one pill can kill, and that's because just one of these hot illegal counterfeit fentanyl pills can kill you.”
Counterfeit pills the DEA says are mostly smuggled into the country.
“Until it happens to you and that one person who dies from illegal fentanyl that's been smuggled into this country by drug traffickers who do not care about anyone, they're just trying to make money, and it kills a member of your family. That's when it hits home, so let's get ahead of it. Let's educate our kids Let's educate the public, and let's not do it because one pill can kill you,” says Sorianello.
And that’s exactly what Song for Charlie is trying to do - educate one person at a time before it is too late.
Click here to learn more about the non-profit organization: Song For Charlie.
Charlie’s friend wrote a song after he died. You can listen to it HERE.
In your neighborhoods, on the streets, Fox San Antonio and the DEA will keep you informed and safe.