22 Young Victims Of Addiction, And The Honest Obituaries That Tell Of Their Deaths
These 22 young Pennsylvania residents recently lost their lives to addiction. And their loved ones aren’t afraid to say it.
If you’ve looked through the obituary pages recently, you’ve likely noticed a troubling trend: there are many young faces.
Of course, not all of these deaths were caused by the same thing. And not all of these deaths are explained on the pages of an obituary. But many were caused by addiction. More and more, the families who have paid the price for that addiction with their loved one’s life are not trying to hide it.
In recent months, as the opioid epidemic clenches its tight grip on Pennsylvania, it has become increasingly common for families who lose loved ones to drug addiction to use an obituary as a public plea for others to get help.
“We want to break the silence of addiction, and we are praying that anyone reading this obituary who is or knows someone struggling with addiction will reach out for help before it is too late,” said the family of Natalie Kaufer Ference, who died in August from an overdose. She was just 28.
The obituaries also share memories and traits of these young people from happier times, before they became consumed in a fight that would ultimately lead to their death. These are young people who had friends, enjoyed sports, did well in school, had jobs.
Here are some of the stories of young lives cut short by addition in Pennsylvania, and whose families are hoping their honest obituaries might, just might, save another family from going through their pain.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction in Pennsylvania, call 1-800-662-HELP for information about treatment options, or click here for more information on local resources.
(Click on the victim’s name to read the full obituary)
Amy Lynn Dalessandro, 28, of Levittown
Date of death: Sept. 23
From her obituary: “Amy enjoyed playing soccer for Queen of the Universe parish and Hulmeville soccer club. She also loved animals and Girl Scouts. Amy also loved spending time vacationing with family.”
Steven B. Rone Federici, 28, of Langhorne
Date of death: Sept. 22
From his obituary: “Steve loved the little things in life along with playing the guitar, hanging out with friends and family and driving a variety of junk cars through the years. He will be sorely missed for his corny jokes, his love of junk food, his laugh and the sweet love he provided to all who had the pleasure to meet him.”
Joshua Ryan Redner, 28, Levittown
Date of death: Sept. 13
From his obituary: “He was a 2007 graduate of Pennsbury High School and a member of St. Michael the Archangel parish. Joshua was a member of the Laborers Union #172 in Trenton and most recently worked with Stavola Construction in New Jersey for the past three years.”
Nicholas Hawkins, 24, Hamburg
Date of death: Sept. 5
From his obituary: “As a child, Nick was always full of life and was loved deeply, with so much promise and yet he still died from an overdose. Addiction does not discriminate. It can take the old, the young, the poor, the wealthiest, or the most successful. Opioid addiction often starts by a prescription. For those that try drugs, please know, it only takes using heroin one time to get hooked. Heroin is a demon that affects the way your brain processes pleasure, taking over not just your brain, but your life, and destroys families. ”
Zachary Jones, 29, Upper St. Clair
Date of death: Sept. 2
From his obituary: “He was passionate about life and he loved playing sports – throughout his childhood, he could often be found in the backyard building skate board ramps, shooting hoops, and playing pick-up basketball. Zack enjoyed life to the fullest. He was an exceptional piano player who loved to bang out a tune while people danced and sang around him. Zack loved helping his family and friends or anyone that needed him.”
Natalie Kaufer Ference, 28, of Pittsburgh
Date of death: Aug. 29
From her obituary: “Natalie’s family is heartbroken. Throughout Natalie’s life, we have always tried to be supportive, and truly loved her despite her challenges. We find comfort in knowing that she will not only live on in our hearts and memories, but also by helping others as an organ donor. We want to break the silence of addiction, and we are praying that anyone reading this obituary who is or knows someone struggling with addiction will reach out for help before it is too late.”
Hunter Fife, 20, Enola
Date of death: Aug. 14
From his obituary: “He was an intelligent and outgoing young man who was full of potential but fell into heroin’s grip. His cause of death should not go unnoticed but be used as a warning to others. Hunter loved the beach, hanging out with his sister Alexis, Davey and his dogs, Bear and Ruby. He especially loved spending time with his Nana and Pap. His greatest love on this earth was his family.”
Ryan Lancellotti, 35, Pittsburgh
Date of death: Aug. 8
From his obituary: “Ryan was an avid Pittsburgh sports fan, especially with his beloved Penguins and enjoyed skiing. Sadly, he struggled with heroin addiction for the past 3 years. God has now released Ryan from his pain. While his family is heartbroken, we know he is now in a happier place. He will be missed forever.”
Kristen Bachner, 31, West View
Date of death: Aug. 4
From her obituary: Kristen”lost her battle with heroin addiction on Aug. 4, 2017 due to complications. She was a beautiful soul and is finally at peace.”
George J. “Binzer” Borowski III, 36, Bangor
Date of death: July 15
From his obituary: “Binzer had a big heart; he was always willing to help anyone and give to others. He had a love for animals, camping, fishing and the outdoors.”
Colton Paul Slayback, 20, Robinson Township
Date of death: July 10
Described by loved ones in online tributes as smart, outgoing, with a passion for being fit and motivating people.
Kimmie Craig, 32, Prospect Park
Date of death: July 9
Online tributes say Kimmie lived a radiant and selfless life, using her courage and strength to aid anyone in need, especially if they were also fighting addiction.
Ridge Oliver, 24, Buckingham
Date of death: July 2
From his obituary: “Ridge was a deeply compassionate, empathetic and charismatic guy. He often put aside his own struggles to help lessen the pain of others. He spent time in Dallas, TX and Asheville helping the homeless and volunteering at Brother Wolf Animal Rescue. Ridge understood the pain people endured and could wrap his arms around those he saw were also lost in internal conflict.”
Edward Callahan, 29 Drexel Hill
Date of death: June 29
From his obituary: “Eddie was a loving husband, father, son, brother and loyal friend. He had a great personality and a beautiful smile. He was a mentor and coach for the Clifton Heights Boys Club for many years. He was a fearless competitor and at the same time was loving, gentle and kind. He will be greatly missed. ”
Cody Dennis Myers, 27, Dillsburg
Date of death: June 24
From his obituary: “Cody battled with demons the last several years of his life. He struggled and fought hard but in the end the demons won. He will live on in our hearts and we will remember the kind and loving young man he was, who lost his battle with heroin addiction.”
Corinne Paige Ferrara, 27, Yardley
Date of death: May 27
From her obituary: “Heaven has gained another angel all too soon as a result of the horrific epidemic sweeping the tri-state area.”
Casey McEvoy, 24, Pittsburgh
Date of death: May 20
From her obituary: “Casey was an old soul with such beauty, brilliance, and wit. She loved people and impacted many. She displayed incredible strength while fighting an addiction to heroin. The battle was too great. Her struggle is over; she is finally at peace.”
Luke Johnson, Yardley
Date of death: May 17
From his obituary: “Luke was funny, gentle, and kind. He loved football (go Pats!), wrestling, basketball (go Cavs!), snowboarding (aka bombing the mountain), eating very fine foods, and spending time with his countless friends. But for the past few years, Luke’s greatest wish in life was to be a ‘normal kid.’ He has left behind more loving family members and friends than could ever be captured here.”
Daniel Richard Haney, 28, Upland
Date of death: May 16
From his obituary: “Danny was an avid Philadelphia sports fan. A star athlete in his youth he so loved the outdoors, fishing and camping with his dad, brothers and friends. His favorite place to be was the beach.”
Raiven Ciera Douglas, 21, of Harrisburg
Date of death: April 26
From her obituary: “Our beautiful girl was taken from us by Heroin. After 6 days on life support Raiven was unable to be saved. But because she was an organ donor, she will be able to give at least 7 people a chance to live. ”
Justin Michael Makowski, 23, Lower Burrell
Date of death: April 25
From his obituary: “Justin was a vibrant and energetic child who grew into a curious and easily influenced young man. As his addiction tightened its grip, he estranged himself from any family and friends who sought to help him. He leaves behind his greatest joy and accomplishment, two beautiful daughters who will never remember their father’s embrace”.