It Can Happen to Anybody

KELO (Sioux Falls) Investigative Reporter Angela Kennecke did stories about about her daughter, Emily Groth’s overdoes death to try and help others.

“If I can prevent one other mother from going through the heartbreak I am going through, it’s good that I spoke out,” she told People Magazine.

An autopsy revealed Emily had six times what would be considered a therapeutic dose of fentanyl for a large adult male, and she died almost instantly, Kennecke says.

The day Emily overdosed, Kennecke had been interviewing women whose children had died from opioid-involved overdoses.

“I got a frantic call from her dad, saying, ‘I think Emily’s O.D. You need to get over here right now,’ ” she said solemnly to viewers of KELO. “I can’t even describe to you what it’s like to hear those words.”

In the months before Emily’s death, Kennecke tells PEOPLE she saw signs that something was very wrong, and in hindsight, thinks the drug abuse may have gone on for a year.

Kennecke’s beautiful, eldest daughter — an accomplished artist and gymnast with stunning good looks — was losing weight. Her eyes had become a bit sunken. She seemed like she was on something. Always close to her family, Emily started to miss important family events.

“Completely shocked, we were all shocked,” says Kennecke. “I feel like people think it happens to someone in a dark alley.”

“My daughter had the world at her feet, she had everything going for her, every opportunity and every privilege in life,” she continues. “It can happen to anybody.”

She also confronted Emily about drug use. “She denied it,” says Kennecke, “that’s what addicts do, they deny it.”

On Saturday, May 12, Kennecke and other family members met with the interventionist. The next day was Mother’s Day, and Emily — who was not living at home at the time — came to brunch. Her last words to her mother were “I love you.”

“She died that Wednesday, we were going to check her into a treatment center, insurance had gone through,” Kennecke says. “I never got the chance to get her there.”

Kennecke says it was an ordeal to get Emily the help she needed while at the same time trying to keep her close.

“There’s a big hole in our family,” Kennecke says.”My kids and my husband are the reason for me going on. What do I do with this loss? Do I let it destroy me? Or do I turn it into a call to action?”