Woman who lost son, 17, to accidental fentanyl OD shares story with Channel 9

CHARLOTTE — Gwyn Brown is looking back on memories with her son knowing that when Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools start back to school next week, he won’t be there.

Laird Ramirez, 17, died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl last month and his mom is still grieving.

“It keeps me up at night,” Brown said. “I think I slept 2 hours last night. I mean it still hits.”

Brown said Laird would’ve finished his senior year at Hough High School. He was a wrestler, a good student, and an all-around great person.

“He just had this little grin and little dimples, and so he’d come in and say ‘hi mom’ and I’d say ‘hi honey,’ and it was just that soft interaction whenever he came home,” she said. “I miss that.”

Brown said Laird took a pill he thought was Percocet.

On National Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day Monday, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said Laird’s case is not unusual. Just this year, CMPD said it responded to nearly 1,000 overdoses so far -- a 20% increase from last year.

What’s even more shocking is CMPD’s vice unit seized about 65 pounds of suspected fentanyl -- enough to kill 15 million people.

“There’s no telling how much fentanyl is in each of these pills,” Brown said.

CMPD and MEDIC are now working to roll out a new ODMAP app to help track overdose calls in real time. But Brown said it’s up to parents to track their kids and have the tough conversations.

She only learned later she should’ve been looking at Laird’s bank transactions to see the routine pill purchases on apps like Venmo or Cash App.

“If I had known to look at how your kid spends money, where they spend money, that would’ve made a big difference,” Brown said.

Brown knows she can’t bring back her beloved son, but once she heals enough, she wants to make sure other families don’t experience this preventable heartache too.

“How do I make sense of this?” she asked. “How do I make meaning of this?”

(WATCH MORE: CMPD: Fentanyl’s impact on Charlotte community)