Wisconsin mother aims to reduce stigma for accidental fentanyl deaths

Erin Rachwal launched the Love, Logan Foundation in June to honor her 19-year-old son Logan who died after taking a fentanyl-laced Percocet.
Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 5:38 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 16, 2022 at 5:58 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A Pewaukee mother whose son died after she says he unknowingly consuming fentanyl created a billboard campaign to make people more aware about the lethal drug.

Erin Rachwal launched the Love, Logan Foundation in June to honor her 19-year-old son Logan who died after taking a fentanyl-laced Percocet. Rachwal said Logan did not know the pill contained fentanyl. Logan was living in the UW-Milwaukee dorms at the time.

She spoke at a potluck Tuesday in Madison at M3 Insurance for more accessible Narcan, fentanyl education and to reduce the shame that can go hand-in-hand with drug-related deaths.

Rachwal said her son’s death and other similar deaths should be considered a fentanyl “poisoning” not an “overdose.”

”Overdose is taking too much of something. It’s intentionally taking too much and then you pass or you die,” she said. “This is a very small amount of something is put in something and you didn’t know what you were getting.”

She started a billboard campaign in Waukesha County and Times Square in New York City featuring faces of young people who died after consuming fentanyl. The billboards feature Sun Prairie mother Dana Tanner’s son Ryan Tanner.

Ryan was 29-years-old when he was killed by what Dana calls a “fentanyl poisoning”. He left behind a 5-year-old-son. She said they were about to leave for a Disney vacation and that Ryan did not knowingly consume the drug.

Rachwal and Tanner met for the first time in-person at the Madison potluck.

”When it becomes a stigma of a drug I just really needed to reach out to parents who had the same thing who I could relate to because you feel alone,” Tanner said.

Both mothers urge other parents to talk to their children struggling with addiction, anxiety or any other issues that might lead to drug use.

Rachwal says helping prevent deaths caused by fentanyl and speaking with others about the issue helps her heal.

”All we can do now is use their lives to save other lives,” she said. “That’s all we can do. We can’t bring our kids back but we can help every other person. I can look around and say I can help that child.”

In early August, PHMDC issued a public health alert after reporting a drug overdose rate 50% higher than usual in Dane County.

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