Vernon mom who lost daughter to fentanyl overdose appeals for safe injection site - InfoNews

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Vernon mom who lost daughter to fentanyl overdose appeals for safe injection site

Sandra Welton stands with a picture of her daughter, Mehgan Parrotta, who died of a fentanyl overdose May 30.
July 03, 2019 - 6:00 AM

VERNON - Sandra Welton's daughter Mehgan Parrotta had aspirations as a five-year-old to become a police officer and later to follow in her mother's footsteps and become a social worker.

Instead, after two years of sobriety, Parrotta died of a drug overdose in Vernon May 30. She was 28-years-old.

"If there was a safe injection site I can bet my life my daughter would still be alive because there would have been the proper care," Welton said.

Parrotta had a naloxone kit in her bag when she was found unresponsive on the street— proof, Welton said, that her daughter wanted to stay safe and was not reckless in her struggles with addiction.

"Meghan was an alone user because of her pride and the shame and stigma, so she wouldn't do it in public," Welton said.

If a safe injection site was available in Vernon, Welton said she would have gone there and ultimately been saved.

Now just one month after Parrotta died, Welton is campaigning for a safe injection site to open in the city. She has also set up a Gofundme campaign to raise money to send someone in need of private treatment.

While Interior Health Authority does offer treatment Welton said waiting lists can be long and when people decide they want to enter treatment they need it available to them immediately.

"No mother should bury their child before them, and if I can save one person or stop one mother or father from going through what I'm going through that's what my daughter would want me to do... my daughter would expect nothing less," she said.

While the Interior Health Authority has said a safe injection site will open, there's been strong opposition from some members of the public as well some council members.

The problem said Welton is people's ignorance of what a safe injection site is.

"There's too much of a stigma, (opponents) just think bad people are going to use it (and) we don't want it in our neighbourhood," she said.

The reality Welton said is very different and people often have preconceived ideas of what drug addicts look like.

"People come from all walks of life from doctor's to lawyers to teachers," she said. "They look like you and me, they're people, they have heartbeats just like anybody else.”

Welton said she and Parrotta talked at length about her addiction. Parrotta had been on a methadone program and come off heroin two-years previously. She stopped taking methadone around seven months ago and was living with Welton, helping look after her grandparent's property in Chase. Parrotta travelled back to Vernon May 29— where she once lived and graduated high school —and bought what she thought was cocaine the following day. The drug contained mainly fentanyl.

Welton received a call from the RCMP in the afternoon May 30 and rushed to the Vernon hospital where her daughter was on life support. Parrotta was transported to Kelowna hospital where Welton made the painful decision from the doctor's advice to have her daughter removed from life support.

"It was the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my 50 years of life," she said.

Seven and a half hours later Parrotta died.

Welton lay next to her daughter for the "longest seven and a half hours of (her) life."

Welton can't answer why her daughter slipped in her recovery after she was doing so well, but says if a safe injection site was available she would have definitely used it.

"I just know she would have wanted to be in a safe environment because we talked lots about fentanyl and how it takes one time," she said. "And this was her one time."

Welton is encouraging anyone with questions about the Gofundme or safe injection site to contact her at 778-245-3808 or via email at sandradwelton@gmail.com.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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