Mom who lost two sons to overdoses warns St. Charles students ahead of prom night
Imagine learning from a Twitter hashtag that one of your friends had died.
Or worse, that two of your friends, who were brothers, died the same night from mixing alcohol with prescription drugs.
Finally, picture being the mother of these two teens who were athletic, bright and college-bound and finding their bodies.
On June 14, 2015, Becky Savage found her son, Jack, 18, dead in his bedroom of their Granger, Indiana, home after a night attending graduation parties.
"Those next few moments still haunt me to this day," Savage told an assembly of juniors Thursday at St. Charles East High School. "My son was lifeless."
Jack's older brother, Nick, was found dead that same morning after sleeping in the family basement with some friends. Nick, 19, had just finished freshman year at Indiana University.
Both brothers died from acute alcohol and oxycodone overdose.
"It's hard enough to process the loss of a son, but two was unthinkable," Savage said. "They were smart kids with bright futures who made a bad choice. The voice of reason is silenced (when drinking alcohol) and risk-taking behaviors take over."
Savage and her husband, Mike, formed the 525 Foundation -- a combination of Nick and Jack's hockey numbers 5 and 25 -- to share their story and warn people of the dangers of mixing alcohol and prescription drugs.
St. Charles East officials, with the help of Kane County Judge Clint Hull, who also is an East alum, worked to bring Savage to speak to juniors and seniors. On Friday, Savage will address juniors and seniors at St. Charles North.
Her visit was part of yearly pre-prom events to inform, educate and discourage illegal behavior. "We want you to be safe and make good decisions," Assistant Principal Lisa Dandre told students. "You are special. You are appreciated. We care about you."
Savage said her family had talked to their kids about illegal drugs, but didn't warn them of potentially lethal prescription drugs, many of which are taken from medicine cabinets of teens' parents and grandparents. Savage urged students to call 911 if a friend is in duress from drinking and noted Illinois' "Lifeline Law" ensures minors who call authorities, cooperate and stay at the scene will not be prosecuted.
"If presented with an opportunity to help somebody, act on it," St. Charles East Principal Jim Richter said.
Savage ended her presentation with a video produced by Nick and Jack's hockey coach. On it, friends, relatives and teammates talk about how the teens made a difference in their lives.
One friend tearfully recalled how he learned from Twitter that both his friends had died.
"I often think about what I would give up to just have 10 seconds (with Nick and Jack again)," their father and 525 Foundation Founder Mike Savage tearfully said at the end of the video. "I'd give up everything for just 10 seconds. It's that simple."