Mom shares story of son's heroin OD death to raise awareness

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HEMPFIELD, Pa. —

The mother of a Hempfield Area High School senior who died last month of a heroin overdose talked with Channel 11 News Wednesday.

Johnny Morrelli’s mother, Rachele Morrelli, said she wanted to share her message to other teens and their parents so they don’t go through what she did.

“My son was an amazing person,” Morrelli said. “If you met him and he liked you, he made you feel like part of his family.”

Morrelli described her 18-year-old son as smart, athletic and popular at Hempfield Area High School. She said no one knew he struggled with depression.

According to Morrelli, everything changed for her son when he had an accident and broke his wrist.

“They put him on Vicodin, and at the time I really wasn’t aware of what drugs do or how it would affect him. The Vicodin not only took away the pain in his wrist, but it took away his depression,” Morrelli said.

Morrelli said when he son’s Vicodin prescription ran out he started buying OxyContin. She said those pills got expensive and he turned to heroin.

“You have a little bit of money and heroin is an option. No matter how fearful you were of it, no matter how bad you told yourself you wouldn’t do it, you’re going to make the jump,” Morrelli said.

Johnny’s friend is a recovering addict, and said he’s been clean since Johnny’s death last month.

“When Jon died, it showed me I wasn’t invincible,” the boy said.

Morrelli said her son’s friend’s comment is something she hopes will resonate with kids and their parents. She wants people to know that what happened to her son can happen to anyone.

“The drugs are in our area. They’re here and the only thing that’s going to happen is it’s going to get worse and more lives are going to be lost,” Morrelli said.

Morrelli said she would like to see certified drug counselors in every school.