HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - There has been an explosion in the number of people dying from drugs in Hampton Roads and around the country.
News 3 has been investigating this deadly troubling trend, and Diana Mitchell is one of many parents in the region who have felt the devastating impacts of losing a child to this horrific problem.
She said her daughte Brooke Mitchell was an amazing person who loved animals, life and swimming.
“At 7 years old, she came home to me one day with a bunch of papers and said, ‘Here, Mom - I want to join the swim team. Give me $75 and sign this,’” said Mitchell.
Her daughter loved living and had a strong personality at times.
“With Brooke, I always knew it was going to be her journey and we're just going to have to hold on for the ride,” said Mitchell, “but, I never, never expected this,” said Mitchell.
Never expected to have to deal with the heartbreak of losing her daughter to drugs.
The addiction started 17 months prior to her death. Mitchell said her daughter told her she was struggling with heroin. She said the news was a surprise and that her daughter's friends had changed a little bit, but not enough to send off alarms.
Mitchell said getting help for her teenage daughter was difficult due to her being under 18. She was 17 at the time.
Mitchell said she was also met with resistance from leaders in her daughter’s school district and in the community when she tried to talk about the problem.
“The school said, ‘Oh, we don't have those issues here at our school,' so I was like, ‘So you're telling me my 4.3 GPA daughter is the only one heroin addict in your school out of 500 people?'” said Mitchell.
Brooke did improve for a while, had plans to be a nurse and seemed to be getting better. But tragically, she went back to the old “friends” who her mom said she was trying to avoid, and she bought drugs. Mitchell said the dose that would ultimately kill her daughter turned out to be a combination of fentanyl, cocaine and molly.
“Thinking it was heroin, they all did a line, and apparently Brooke had a massive heart attack,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell said those friends waited to take her to the hospital and said they drove around in the car with her daughter, who needed medical attention, for hours until she eventually was taken to the emergency room.
Mitchell got a knock at the door from police who told her to go to the hospital. She knew there was a problem, but she didn’t know to what extent.
A nurse asked if her daughter had a DNR, a "do not resuscitate" order. Mitchell said she was only 18 years old and was shocked to have the nurse ask her that.
“The nurse said to me, 'You do realize your daughter is brain dead,'” said Mitchell.
But she and other family members did not know.
Brooke’s death is just one example of this deadly heartbreaking problem impacting many families around the region.
Now, Mitchell is fighting to change laws, is sharing her experience and is trying to get more support for the problem that's killing so many people, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
News 3 has uncovered shocking numbers from the Medical Examiner’s Office that show a dramatic increase in deadly overdose cases in Hampton Roads.
Coming up in our two-part series, we look at those numbers and how COVID-19 is impacting this problem. You can watch part 2 Tuesday night on News 3 at 6.