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'It’s this insidious monster' | Houston mother speaks out after daughter dies from fentanyl pill

“I know that she died from fentanyl. I don't know what she was trying to buy."

HOUSTON, Texas — Nancy Fowler has an app on her phone that tells her how many days it’s been since her daughter Kate passed away. When KHOU 11's Janelle Bludau spoke with her, it had been 89 days.

“It’s to let us know, to let me know, how many days she’s been gone. And if we did 89 days, we can do 89 more," Fowler said. 

It was the night before Christmas Eve and Kate was home from college for the holidays.

“She wasn’t feeling well and said she was going to go to bed early and said goodnight and that was the last we saw her," Fowler said. 

The family went to bed that night having no idea what they’d find the next day.

“So I went into Kate's room and she was sitting on the bed facing the door and her knees were crossed. And she was just slumped forward. And I yelled, and grabbed her and pushed her back. And her face was all twisted. And her body was already stiff. And I knew. I knew, but I didn't comprehend," Fowler said. 

Kate was found lifeless in her bed. Her family was shattered.

“My 16-year-old child was able to talk to the police and answer the questions that I couldn't. And I just started wailing. And this sound that I've never heard myself make before," Fowler said. 

Her 18-year-old beautiful, healthy, first-born baby was gone.  

“One of the officers said it was fentanyl. No doubt about it. It's the only thing that does that - kills that quickly," Fowler said. 

Nancy said police have confirmed to her that fentanyl was found in Kate’s system.

“It’s this insidious monster that you can't, you can't see or touch. And it'll kill you. It will kill you if you give it a chance," Fowler said.

But how she got it, they’re still getting answers. 

“I know that she died from fentanyl. I don't know what she was trying to buy. I assume that it was Percocet," Fowler said. "Kate had issues with anxiety and depression.”

She thinks that night, Kate just wanted to sleep.

“She’s had horrible, horrible nightmares her entire life. And even though she had a team of mental health people around her, she was still plagued with these horrific nightmares," Fowler said. 

That’s why she thinks her 18-year-old bought a pill through Snapchat, paying a tragic price.

“I think she just wanted to be able to sleep," Fowler said. 

Her mother is now hoping other parents will hear her message.

“The officer said that there's a couple of different messaging apps that are used primarily for buying drugs," Fowler said. “Letting parents know that drugs can be bought off social media, it's insane.”

On top of sharing their story, Nancy is also working with lawmakers to loosen restrictions on fentanyl testing strips - strips of paper that can detect the presence of fentanyl in drugs. You could buy them on Amazon, but not in Texas. 

“Amazon will not currently ship to Texas because these testing strips are currently illegal in Texas. They're considered drug paraphernalia," Fowler said. 

Fowler says no one should be doing drugs, saying it’s a different world now and drugs are different. 

"They’ll kill you within minutes," Fowler said. "But if a person were to take them regardless of the risk of death, they should test it first. No parent wants their kids to do drugs, but if they do, we want them to be safe. I can help my child recover from addiction, but not death."

She's also a big advocate of providing more Narcan, a life-saving medication that can reverse an overdose from opioids.

"It’s almost like there needs to be a sober Narcan-ready person in the group to call an ambulance and give chest compressions if someone starts to overdose. To me, the price seems ridiculously high to, well, get high, but people will always make bad decisions. And often, those people are teenagers," Fowler said. 

She understands why parents may be against giving fentanyl testing strips to their kids.

“But my question to them is, would you rather help your child through a potential addiction or bury your child?" Fowler said. 

Nancy is working with state lawmakers to testify in Austin for a bill that will legalize fentanyl testing strips in Texas. She could do that at any point during this legislative session.

Janelle Bludau on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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