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Fentanyl killed their daughter. Now this couple is trying to prevent the next tragedy

 Dave and Kate Gibbons lost their daughter Paige to an accidental fentanyl overdose.
Racquel Stephen
Dave and Kate Gibbons lost their daughter Paige to an accidental fentanyl overdose.

Paige Gibbons had dreams of becoming a doctor or emergency medical technician.

“She had the intellect and compassion and sensitivity to achieve that,” says her father, Dave Gibbons.

For her senior project in high school, Paige taught her schoolmates hands-only CPR for women. Having access to only male bodied mannequins, the future medic used her own money to add breasts to the school’s mannequins.

“They still use those … to train,” says her mother, Kate Gibbons, about her daughter’s legacy.

The Gibbons are focused on Paige’s legacy, because her aspirations were cut short.

Her parents recall the then 19-year-old went out to stay overnight with friends on a Saturday in November. The next morning, two police officers knocked on the front door of their Pittsford home with the horrific news that Paige was dead of a fentanyl overdose.

“I literally just left the house and started roaming, and Kate was hysterically crying,” Dave says. “From that day on, it changed our lives forever.”

The Gibbons say Paige thought she was taking Percocet. According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 150 people die each day from overdosing on synthetic opioids like fentanyl in the United States. Officials say fentanyl overdoses are the fastest growing cause of death among young people aged 14 to 23.

Since Paige's death, the Gibbons are trying to raise local awareness.

“We really just wanted to make sure that we are supporting our community,” Kate says.

By speaking out and being public about their experience, the couple hopes to eliminate the stigma around mental health and addiction.

The duo recently spoke at a briefing held by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand where she announced new legislation dubbed the FEND Off Fentanyl Act. The bipartisan bill would allow government agencies to target, sanction and block the finances of alleged foreign drug trafficking organizations.

“More specifically, it would declare that the international trafficking of fentanyl is a national emergency,” Gillibrand said.

Dave and Kate Gibbons said they will never really be able to move on from their daughter's untimely death, but this bill provides some closure.

“Hopefully we as a community can start recognizing the issue before us,” Kate says, and address “things that are facing our kids, and get them help long before something like this happens to anyone else's child.”

Copyright 2023 WXXI News. To see more, visit WXXI News.