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East County mother grieves loss of third son to opioid epidemic

East County mother grieves loss of third son to opioid epidemic
Posted at 5:28 PM, Sep 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-08 21:24:34-04

RAMONA, Calif. (KGTV) - A grieving East County mother who recently lost a third son to the opioid crisis is sharing her heartbreak.

For Renee Bushey, the pain is always there.

“It’s a big, big, huge hole in my heart,” said Bushey.

It began in 2010, when her 28-year-old son Donovan, struggling with a heroin addiction but four months clean, died at his home in Arizona.

"He was found in his bed unresponsive by his wife, and it was just too late,” said Bushey.

Bushey says her son died from a mix of methadone and Xanax.

Six years later, her son Jake, 22 years old, an aspiring chef who also battled addiction, was found dead at his home in Arizona.

“As far as I know, that was his first relapse, and that's all it took,” said Bushey.

Bushey says his cause of death was heroin laced with fentanyl.

Some seven years later, during this past June, tragedy struck again.

“He was found behind a laundromat in Ramona. He was already blue,” said Bushey.

Bushey's youngest son, Taylor, 27, died of a suspected fentanyl overdose. Bushey says Taylor, diagnosed with schizophrenia nearly a decade ago, had begun using after his diagnosis.

He was taking medication for schizophrenia, and at the time he died, was enrolled in an outpatient treatment program for both mental health and addiction issues.

“It’s just like a ton of bricks hit you,” said an emotional Bushey. “Each time I had to hear about one of my boys passing, you don't even know how you can take that as a human … Each death of a son devastated their brothers. They said they wouldn’t do drugs … Sadly, the two followed. I don’t know. It’s the grip that that drug has. Those drugs are evil.”

Though the sources of the drugs that killed her sons is not clear, Bushey applauds Governor Newsom's decision to increase the California National Guard presence at the border, targeting fentanyl smuggling.

“It’s killing our young people. It’s killing older people. It’s out of hand, and it’s something that needs to be stopped at the border, right now,” said Bushey.

Bushey says she hopes by sharing the story of her three sons, she will make a difference in another family's life

“Don't enable but don't give up. Keep fighting and keep trying,” said Bushey. “For those struggling with addiction, don’t feel shameful. Let your family know you need help. Seek help.”

She has two other children, a daughter in her 30s, and a son in his 40s.

A Gofundme campaign has been set up to help Bushey with funeral expenses for her son, Taylor.