Montgomery County mothers work to prevent kids dying from fentanyl poisoning

We’ve heard a lot about the growing number of kids who are dying from fentanyl poisoning, but what’s being done to stop it? In Montgomery County, a new partnership has formed to help do just that.

Typically, when it comes to illegal drugs the involvement of a district attorney’s office is to put bad guys away and that’s certainly the case for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, but their felony division chief is also working hard to teach kids just how dangerous and deadly fentanyl is.

"We’re seeing younger and younger kids who are already in recovery from a fentanyl addiction, and it’s just staggering," explains Montgomery County District Attorney's Office Felony Division Chief Donna Hansen.

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There are also an increasing number of youngsters who are dying from fentanyl poisoning. "The Montgomery County Narcotics Officers have been to hundreds of overdose deaths in the last couple of years," Hansen adds.

She’s partnering with M-COPE, the Montgomery County Overdose Prevention Endeavor. "They come with us to the schools, and they set up their Memorial Walkway, and it's just a very touching, very moving display," Hansen explains.

"We’re a group of four moms that lost our sons, and they were all in this age group and this seems to be the most vulnerable age group to fentanyl, and so we’re trying to get the word out. We were not able to save our children, but possibly we can help you save yours," says M-COPE Founder Sarah Hall.

"We talk to the students about the consequences of if you get caught, you get arrested what sorts of things happen to you in the criminal justice system. We also talk to them about what it’s like to be an addict," Hansen explains, and they tell the kids just how addictive and deadly fentanyl is.

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In a recent school event, the group set up nearly life-size pictures of 142 young people who died due to fentanyl in what they call the Memorial Walkway. "And we saw the kids, they really stopped and read about each kid and each person that was lost to overdose," Hall explains.

Hall now has a special spot in her yard dedicated to her son Ethan who died of a fentanyl overdose in 2020. "This is a tree that’s planted in memory of Ethan. It’s our E-Tree," smiles Hall. There are red bird statues set up around the tree because Hall says "when a cardinal appears, an angel is near" and every so often, as we found out on our visit, a real redbird comes to visit. "When that happens I say ‘Hi Ethan’," Hall calls out as the bird flies by.

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"Watching them (the M-COPE moms) turn their tragedy into education for someone else, just that strong desire to not let anyone else suffer the misery that they have is a really beautiful thing. I feel really blessed to know these ladies," Hansen says.

Hansen has eight pending fentanyl-related death cases. A new Delivery of a Controlled Substance statute allows investigators to charge the dealers, which can come with a punishment of 10 years in prison and lawmakers are considering cracking down even harder.

"Even if it’s delivery of less than a gram of a controlled substance it will increase that punishment range to second-degree felony range which is two to 20 years in prison," Hansen explains. There’s also now what’s called the Good Samaritan Law. If someone calls to get help for someone who’s suffering an overdose they will not be charged for any drugs they may be in possession of.

The moms and felony division Chief Hansen are willing to speak at any school in any district and at churches.

You can email Donna Hansen at and find M-COPE on their website.