According to the CDC, more than 42,000 people died of opioid drug overdoses in 2016.
While current law makes it difficult to hold dealers responsible in New York, that could change under a bill passed by the New York Senate on Wednesday.
It’s still tough for Tim Murdick to look at pictures of his son, Sean. They bring good memories to the surface, but they are also a reminder that he is gone.
“There was so much he was going to do,” Murdick says. “Sean was captain of his football team. He was a great kid.”
In September 2015, at 22-years-old, Sean died of a heroin overdose, an addiction that began after he was prescribed oxycodone for a broken arm. His dad was heartbroken, but also says he wishes he could have held Sean’s dealer accountable.
“The negligence and just the shear cold-heartedness of somebody dealing something that’s this deadly, it takes your breath away,” says Murdick.
Currently, a dealer who sells a drug that leads to someone’s death is usually only charged with the criminal sale of a controlled substance. But Republican Senator George Amedore (R-Rotterdam) is trying to change that by raising the associated penalties.
“We are seeing spikes in fatalities and we have to go after the drug dealers,” said Senator Amedore.
Under Laree’s Law, named after Laree Farrell Lincoln, a teenager who died of an overdose in 2013, law enforcement officials could charge dealers with homicide if someone dies from opiates they sold them.
“They’re mixing this stuff, it’s poison,” said Senator Amedore. “They know what they’re doing. They don’t care. They’re profiting on our most vulnerable.”
Murdick says the law could bring solace to other families in the future.
“It wouldn’t bring Sean back, but I think it’s some way of vindication,” says Murdick. “Not just vindication but letting dealers know that we’re coming after you.”
Wednesday marked the fifth time Laree’s Law has passed the State Senate, but it still needs to get the Assembly’s approval. Senator Amedore says the main issue holding the bill up is concerns over overcrowding in prisons.