Grieving Mother Uses Billboard To Promote Overdose Reporting Law

By Keri Blakinger 01/15/18

The woman's son died after his friends were afraid to call 911 when he overdosed in the car. 

sad woman standing in front of window

An angry mom in Ohio has launched a battle against drug overdoses with an eye-catching roadside billboard. 

After her son’s recent death, Lenora Lada paid to put up signage notifying Buckeye Staters about the Good Samaritan laws that should have saved him—and could help other overdose victims. 

“His Life Mattered: No Excuse For Not Calling 911 or taking someone to a hospital,” the sign reads. 

"I am asking for people to be accountable for not getting them help," she told WBNS-TV, where you can view the billboard. Lada’s son, Trey Moats, died after his friends were afraid to call 911 when he overdosed in the car. 

Even as the 26-year-old’s lips started turning blue, they avoided calling police and instead drove him to a friend’s house. Then, they phoned up the dying man’s mother and told her to come get him. 

“When I got to the house he was laying on the ground,” she said. “He was gurgling.” He’d already been at the home more than 20 minutes by the time Lada arrived to call 911. 

Moats died at the hospital of multiple organ failure due to cardiac arrest and polysubstance abuse. 

Now, Lada is on a crusade to spread word of the so-called Good Samaritan law, which prevents authorities from prosecuting anyone who calls 911 to report an overdose. The person overdosing can’t be prosecuted either, but immunity is only good two times and the law is not applicable for people on parole, the local TV station reported. 

Ohio’s measure also requires the overdose survivor to get a drug treatment referral within a month in order to avoid charges. 

A little over two hours to the north, another Ohio town also made headlines this year for its controversial roadside signage. 

The Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office in eastern Ohio paid to put up billboards that read, “Attention drug dealers: Report your competition.” 

It’s drug seizure money that’s used to pay for the unusual ads.

"We just think it's just a great way of getting the word out there, being a little bit pro-active that if you have any information and ironically even if you are a drug dealer, report your competition to us,” Sheriff Jerry Greene told WFMJ-TV. “We're hoping that something like this, if we can get just one or two good cases out of this, will be worth it.”

Officials admitted it’s not clear whether the billboards will actually work. 

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.