Loved ones walk in Ocean View for those who died from drug overdoses

Posted at 10:54 PM, Aug 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-31 23:30:06-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Throughout the state of Virginia, there were 325 drug overdose deaths in just January through March alone.

More than 100 of those deaths were due to heroin.

The startling numbers affect many local families, including those who gathered in Ocean View on Wednesday night to push for a change.

"The pain is every day, every day is a nightmare, you wake up to it every single day," says Autum Kenowitz, who lost her sister to a heroin overdose back on August 5th.

Kenowitz and another Ocean View native, Susan Taylor Razo, say they both showed up to the same funeral home that day. While Kenowitz was there for her sister, Razo was there for her close friend, who also died from a heroin overdose.

That's when they knew they had to take action.

"Unfortunately heroin is in this area of Norfolk it is killing our people," says Razo. "We cannot continue to watch our people die, and we will not."

To start their plans, they organized an Overdose Awareness Walk on International Overdose Awareness Day.

Dozens of people showed up in the color purple to share stories and walk through Ocean View to spread the word.

According to the Chief Medical Examiner's Office, there were 20 heroin overdose deaths in Norfolk last year.

This year, the most recent numbers show five deaths between January and March, but that does not include some of the recent losses by those gathered for the walk.

"I think people know that it's happening and they're aware and they mourn for a couple of days and it's just brushed under the rug," says Kenowitz.

The group says talking about the issue, out in the public, is a big first step.

They hope it will only encourage people who need help to come forward.

"I couldn't save my sister, I'm going to try to save somebody else," says Kenowitz. "Because I have to, I have to do it."