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Atascadero mom brings attention to International Overdose Awareness Day

Cindy Sarantos
In May 2020, Cindy Sarantos lost her 18-year-old son Dylan to an overdose.

It’s been a year since an Atascadero mom lost her son to a fentanyl overdose. Today, for International Overdose Awareness Day, she and others will be at an event in San Luis Obispo to raise awareness of drug-related deaths, and to help prevent it from happening to others. 

Atascadero mom Cindy Sarantos said her 18-year-old son, Dylan, had big dreams of opening his own clothing line one day. 

“He was artistic," Sarantos said. "He did his drawings for his clothing, he would make some of his clothing by hand.”

Sarantos said one morning in May 2020, she walked into her son’s room to find him cold. An investigation turned up that her son purchased what he thought was an ecstasy pill, but it was fentanyl. He had overdosed some time in the night.

“He didn’t want to die," Sarantos said. "I mean, the last thing he had opened on his laptop was his school work.”

Sarantos now spends much of her time educating other parents about the dangers of fentanyl, and kids buying street drugs not knowing what’s in them.

“You don’t think it’s going to happen to you," Sarantos said. "It shatters your world, nothing will be the same ever again.”

This evening, Sarantos will be joining the County of San Luis Obispo Health agency for an overdose awareness event.

Jenn Rhoads with the SLO Opioid Safety Coalition said the event will include a resource fair, a memorial candlelight vigil ceremony, and a Narcan-nasal spray antidote training. Attendees will be able to take the overdose reversal drug with them.

“Within five minutes, a person can be in very severe danger of losing their life," Rhoads said. "If we can have this life-saving medication available to anybody in the community, they can actually administer it while waiting for emergency help to respond.”

Rhoads said SLO County’s overdose deaths in 2020 increased by 64 percent since 2016. She said while there is a stigma around substance use, it’s affecting people from all backgrounds and ages.

This event is hoping to provide resources to help flatten the curve

“Also be able to honor those loses by moving forward in a positive way and trying to prevent future loses,” Rhoads said. 

The event will take place at Mitchell Park tonight in San Luis Obispo from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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