PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the fentanyl crisis spreads across the United States, one local family shared their experience after a loved one died from a fentanyl overdose after taking pills laced with the drug.
Erin Martinek’s brother, Taylor Martinek — a Jesuit High School graduate and Portland State University football player — died in 2017. Martinek was in recovery from an opioid addiction when he relapsed and got a pill that he thought was Oxycodone.
“Taylor bought Xanax and Oxycodone pills from a friend, this was a former coworker, this was someone who kept telling him while he was sober ‘Hey, if you just want more pills, I’ll get you some,’” Martinek said. “Finally, he broke him down and Taylor thought he was taking a Xanax and an Oxycodone…he had no intentions of dying.”
Erin Martinek was a Washington County Deputy at the time. The night her brother overdosed she had the night off “by happenstance” to help her sister get ready for a father-daughter dance.
Otherwise, she recalls, “I would have responded to my own brother’s death.”
Martinek says she changed careers because she couldn’t respond to overdose calls after her brother’s death. She now works in the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.
“If Taylor hadn’t passed away, I’d still be a police officer, it’s my absolute passion in life to help people,” Martinek said. “But I knew I had to prioritize my own mental health and not be a first responder anymore.”
Martinek remembers her brother as “the biggest cheerleader that there ever was. He loved everybody, would brag about all of us…he was one of my best friends, he was one of the best brothers even when he was struggling with addiction.”
“It can happen so fast, and it can happen to anyone. That’s the bigger message, that this is people who are experimenting, or who get it from a party, or from a friend,” Martinek says of fentanyl poisoning.
“Just because someone’s suffering from addiction doesn’t make them lesser than the rest of us…there’s so many people struggling with addiction that we don’t even know,” Martinek said. “There are people in our lives, and we have no idea the battle’s they are facing.”