Families mourn heroin victims at vigil

Families mourn heroin victims at vigil

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - In Chesterfield, the heroin epidemic is the worst it's been in years. Police said in just the past two months, there have been more than 40 overdoses and 10 deaths.

One of them was 26-year-old Travis Garris, who lost his battle to heroin addiction just last week. A vigil was held for him and other victims at the McShin Foundation in Henrico on Tuesday.

It was difficult for Savanna Berlingeri to hold tears back, just days after losing her 26-year-old brother to an overdose.

"He's had an addiction for a long time. He's been in and out of jail in and out of rehab, and we're hoping his son was going to change him and it just didn't," she said.

Garris had just become a father but was struggling with heroin for the past year. After a surviving two prior overdoses, his son's mother found him dead in their Chesterfield home Friday.

"When she come back, he was slumped over on the bed, and she said he was blue. She called the paramedics, and they worked on him 30 minutes, and they couldn't bring him back," said Garris' aunt, Terri Deel.

Garris' aunt, sister, and girlfriend spoke bravely in front of a crowd gathered outside the non-profit recovery organization, McShin Foundation, as part of a candlelight vigil for victims of heroin.

Just two days before Garris' death, his 20-year-old sister, Taylor Garris, was rushed to the hospital after a heroin overdose, where she is currently fighting to survive.

"We definitely want to break the cycle of this," said Berlingeri.

"It's a waiting game with Taylor right now," Deel added.

While they hold on to hope Taylor will make it through, they plan for Travis' funeral.

"Yesterday, I had to go pick out a casket," said Deel. "I never in a million years dreamed that I'd be going to make funeral arrangements for my 26-year-old nephew."

Travis' funeral is next Wednesday.

Visit The McShin Foundation if you or someone you know is still struggling with an addiction.

At the vigil, there were many former addicts in the crowd who have survived and recovered.

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