CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — It’s a terrible story, but one too often told, DEA Agent Nicholas Kolen said.
A high school athlete hurts his leg playing soccer, goes to the doctor and gets a prescription for opiates.
“The next thing we know, they’re addicted,” Kolen said. “Once these opiates hijack these people’s brains, they change. They’re not the same people we thought they were. They’re now in a whole different world fighting to keep that addiction going.”
Often, opioid addictions spring from a prescription for pain killers, whether they’re misused by the person they’re prescribed to or found in a medicine cabinet and used by a friend or family member, Kolen explained.
Cape May County, which has a high ranking history in the state for opioid prescriptions as well as overdose deaths, took a step forward in the fight against the opioid epidemic Wednesday by becoming New Jersey’s first county to deploy prescription drop boxes in all 12 police stations, including the State Police barracks in Woodbine.
In 2017, Cape May County saw the most opioid prescriptions dispensed for every resident in the state, at a ratio of one prescription for every resident, according to state Attorney General statistics released in September.
Gerald M. Thornton, freeholder director, said that the drop boxes are a step “that makes everyone responsible.”
“Even though we’re a small county, we have all those problems, just like every other county and town in this nation, and we try to address it,” he said. “But I can tell you that the real responsibility that we have has to be reinforced by families and those individuals.”
The drop boxes, made from repurposed mail boxes, are painted with the phrase: “For too many New Jerseyans, addiction begins in the medicine cabinet.”
Residents can bring their expired or unused medications, with the label torn off, and drop them in, anytime, no questions asked.
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Chad L. Harper, 38, of Galloway Township and Orlando, Florida. Pictured with his daughter, Gabrielle.
02/03/79 – 10/20/17
"Chad was a charismatic person, he lived and loved life. Chad grew up in New Jersey and was working at the House of Blues in Disney Springs Florida at the time of his death. Chad loved his family, especially his daughter Gabrielle.
"We will forever miss him, our hearts are broken." -Laurie Johns-Devito, his mother
"My child may have died; but my love - and my motherhood - never will." -C.S. Lewis
David E. Hinkley Jr., 52, of Somers Point, formerly of Delaware
Feb. 12, 1965 - Oct. 19, 2017
Hinkley was born in Atlantic City and also lived in Brigantine and Absecon. He lived in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, for 10 years.
Frankie Vitagliano Jr., 38, of Brigantine
Born on January 10, 1989 and died from a heroin overdose on December 11, 2017.
"He left behind a son, a fiancée and a family who will miss him forever. Forever in our hearts!" -Michelle, his mother
Gregory DiAntonio, 32, of Wildwood
9/22/1980 to 12/30/2012
"Miss you every day ❤️" -Kreni DiAntonio, his mother
Matt Guzman, 23, of Buena
April 21, 1993 - August 27, 2016
"Matt was more than drugs. He gave so much and asked for so little. Get then help before it's too late. I love my son forever and enough is enough." -Linda Rivera, his mother
Jeffrey Giannini, 30, of Ventnor, died of a heroin overdose June 1.
Joshua Zeuner, 30, of Galloway Township
February 12, 1988 - July 7, 2018
"One Life Who Made an Impact on Every Life He Touched. Loved and Never Forgotten." -Candace Mazza, his fiance
Kevin J. McCarthy, 27, of Vineland
July 3, 1990 - Sept. 28, 2017
"Loving father, son, brother, uncle, fiancé, and friend. His wings were ready, but our hearts were not. Forever in our hearts."
Tommy McLaughlin, 39, of Egg Harbor Township
Died June 2, 2018, from a drug overdose after a long battle with addiction.
"Tommy will not be defined by his addiction, but by his caring and quiet demeanor."
Sean Hartley, 33, of Somers Point
Born Dec. 26, 1981. Hartley passed away of a heroin overdose on March 15, 2015.
“Hopefully everyone with an addiction sees the pictures of our loved ones that are gone, will seek out the help that they need to overcome their addiction. I miss my son everyday, he will forever be in my heart.” -Patti Nugent, his mother.
Christine Williams, 37, of Absecon
1/19/1979 - 4/16/2016
"A beautiful soul."
“RIP I miss you my Aquarius angel ❤ lucky 33/37.” -Jennifer McGaffney, friend
Steven James Schmincke, 26, of Mays Landing
7-4-89 / 3-26-16
"Addiction cannot define Steven's life. He was a good hearted son, brother, father and fiancé. There was so much more to you. We miss and love you Steven." -Bill and Tammy Schmincke, his parents
Katelyn Marie Elwell, 18, of Mays Landing
“She was a loving friend to everyone she met and had an infectious laugh.” -Susan Elwell, her mother
Ashley Gitto, 25, of the Lower Bank section of Washington Township.
“We will love you and miss you FOREVER 💔” -Matt, Kathy & Courtney Gitto
Andy Dietrich, 37, of Margate
“Loved life and playing volleyball on the beach with his brothers.”
Michael Firrincilli, 37, of Galloway Township
Died from a heroin overdose on Sept. 28, 2015. He left behind his two daughters, 4 and 19, his long-time girlfriend and his family. He is missed every single day.
“While he wasn’t able to save himself from addiction he did save 5 lives from organ donation and that helped us through his loss because he was the type to give you the shirt off his back and feed whoever needed to eat. He had the biggest heart.”
Raven Kunze, 30, of Toms River
Kunze passed away from an accidental overdose on May 2, 2015.
Melissa A. Endicott, 31, of Absecon
01/14/1986 — 07/02/2017
“She was full of life, ambitious, and had the biggest heart. My sister was more than her addiction and I always want her to be remembered for the beautiful soul she was. Rest peacefully my guardian angel.” -Amanda Endicott, her sister
Samantha Jo Bender, 23, of Gibbstown
Died April 27, 2006
She had a 4-year-old daughter.
Jenny Renee Turner, 32, of Woodbury
8/7/74 - 7/31/07
Turner she passed on July 21, 2007 in Camden after being sober for almost 3 years and left behind a son.
"Not a day goes by we do not miss her and the wonderful caring person she was. I love you Jenny." -Desiree Turner, her sister
Paul (Randy) Lacey, 53, of Egg Harbor Township
“He battled with his addiction to heroin for 10 years. Before that, my father was clean and sober from all mind altering substances for 25 years. He was in a car accident and prescribed pills, which lead to shooting heroin. He left behind his wife of 35 years, his daughter and two grandchildren. Fly high daddy fly high! I hope I make you proud!” -Brandy Henkes, his daughter
James A. “Grizzly” Clark III, 26, of Northfield
Clark overdosed on heroin at the West Palm Beach Airport in Florida and passed away on Dec. 24, 2014.
“He was coming home to Northfield for Christmas to see his son, JJ.” -Donna Clark, his mother
James Matthew Robinson, 27, of Sea Isle City
Died July 7, 2013
“We miss you every single day.”
Justin Toscano, 24, of Egg Harbor Township
4-5-86 to 4-21-12
“Justin was my boyfriend for seven years. We lived together in Philadelphia after I finished college so I could find a job. He went to rehab on Valentine’s Day 2012. After rehab, he seemed like he was finally ready to get clean and almost had a new outlook on life, even after only being approved for a 28-day inpatient rehabilitation program. Unfortunately, Justin relapsed one day while I was at work and I found him dead in our apartment when I got home. Justin was a Union 351 Electrician. The most important thing in his life was working hard, taking care of and being with his family, friends and me. I miss him and think about him everyday.” -Julia Mastalski, his girlfriend
Matthew Mason, 24, of Egg Harbor Township
Mason died three years ago from an overdose.
“There is not one day that goes by that my heart does not ache to just hug him one more time! I love and miss you so much!” -Theresa Allmond-Mason, his mother
Josanna Feldman-Smith, 34, of Galloway Township
“With a hole in our hearts that will never heal. Love always, Dad.” -George Smith, her father
Timothy F. Milam, 31, of Vineland
January 14, 1984 – October 24, 2015
“There’s always gonna be another mountain I’m always gonna wanna make it move Always gonna be an uphill battle Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose Ain’t about how fast I get there Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side It’s the climb” Love, Mom and Dad, sisters, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews
Christian McCarthy, 45, of Millville
Graduated from The College of New Jersey with honors and Widner Law School.
Died Aug. 18, 2015 of a heroin overdose. Missed very much by his family.
Fred Taylor, 46, of Haddon Heights
Unfortunately passed away on Aug, 21 due to heroin. He did save one life by donating his organs.
Daniel T. Michael, 30, of the Pomona section of Galloway Township
5-19-86 to 6-21-16
Hailey Gabrielle Jones, 19, of the Smithville section of Galloway Township
Passed away Aug. 13, 2014.
"Hailey was a beautiful, vibrant girl whose smile and infectious laugh could light up any room. I miss her more every long day...”
Beau Michael Reilly, 21, of Egg Harbor Township
"Always in our hearts."
Ryan B. Beard, 29, of Point Pleasant
Beloved son and grandson
Rutgers University Graduate
Outstanding baseball player and beloved coach
Jesse Flynn, 22, of Sayreville
"Our son Jesse passed away from a heroin overdose on May 29, 2016. He left behind a daughter only 8 months old and a family who loved him deeply. He was kind, witty and full of dreams! If he had a choice he wouldn't have chosen this disease. He had too much to live for!" -Linda Flynn, his mother
Thomas John Latham, 24, of Hamilton Township
“You are always and forever in our hearts. Your light will always shine! Shine on Tom! We love you!!” -his parents
Mark Aishton, 33, of Galloway Township
“The world will never know what these young men could have accomplished. It is not just our loss but the country’s as well.” -Marilyn Aishton, his mother
Dan Miller, 27, of Mays Landing
“Dan passed 6 years ago due to a drug overdose. Our family looks forward to the day God reunites us all.” -Dave Miller, his father.
George John Lees, 33, of Galloway
Dec. 8, 1982 to April 12, 2016
"One month from his masters. He was dedicated to higher education and he loved his son with all his heart."