Three Local Families Share Their Insights By Bridgette Norring In Collaboration with the United Way of Hastings Devin Norring, Natalia Arreguin, and Tyler Kavitz. Three young adults, all age 19, …
Three Local Families Share Their Insights
By Bridgette Norring
In Collaboration with the United Way of Hastings
Devin Norring, Natalia Arreguin, and Tyler Kavitz. Three young adults, all age 19, killed by fentanyl poisoning within the same 18 months. All three were Hastings residents. Gone forever.
Forever age 19, frozen in time as the rest of the world moves on with life. We are three Hastings families left behind to pick up the pieces that can never be put back together, while trying to understand how this happened. We want to make something good from the senseless, cruel, and deceitful way our children were killed. They are not the only ones taken from their families and loved ones before their time. There are other families like ours in Hastings.
Devin loved playing football, riding his bike, skateboarding, and playing video games. Anything he did, he put 150% effort into ‘perfecting’ it. He would sit in front of our home and practice the same bike trick for hours until he landed it just right. The middle child of three, he very protective of his older sister, Hayley, and his younger brother, Caden. He had an amazing sense of humor and would go out of his way to make people laugh. Music was his passion; he was in the process of creating his own music and dreamed of a career in the music industry.
On April 4th, 2020, Devin didn’t wake up. We picked the lock on his room and found him in his bed. He was gone. Nothing either of us, Devin’s parents, or his siblings, could do would bring him back.
Devin wasn’t alone in his room the night before his death. During the investigation, our family was told the person Devin was with the night before allegedly knew Devin was in need of medical attention. Instead of calling 911 or notifying Devin’s family he was in trouble, this individual told Devin’s brother “Devin was sleeping” before leaving our home.
“It breaks my heart because we’ll never know if we could’ve saved him or not. The person who left him knew we were awake; he could’ve told us. Devin could possibly still be alive had this person just said something,” Tom says.
Sadly, tragedy struck another family nine months later. On January 12th, 2021, Natalia Jolie Arreguin tragically lost her life to fentanyl poisoning.
Described by friends and family as being “full of love and life,” Talia loved her siblings, Jesus, IsaBella, and Graciella deeply. Natalia took the role of big sister very seriously and was her siblings’ greatest protector. She enjoyed spending time with her friends and selflessly seeing them through their life’s struggles.
“My granddaughter was always busy trying to help other people and other friends who were struggling. She was always there for them. She saved a couple of her friends from overdosing. I just felt like you’re so busy helping everyone else but nobody’s trying to help you,” Natalia’s grandmother said.
Natalia was found in a home she had recently moved to in Red Wing, MN. She had been staying with several young women she had just met. When the EMTs arrived at the house they gave Natalia several doses of Narcan, a life-saving nasal spray designed to reverse an opioid overdose. But it was too late.
Fentanyl didn’t stop with Devin and Natalia. On April 29th, 2021, another 19-year-old, lifelong resident of Hastings, Tyler Kavitz, was tragically killed by fentanyl.
Becky Maloney, Tyler’s mom writes, “There’s something to be said about writing about who your son WAS. Tyler was 19; he died two weeks after his 19th birthday. Tyler was a boy’s boy. He loved spending time with his friends, watching football, and fishing with his dad. He LOVED video games. He would bring his PlayStation wherever he was going. Tyler was funny. He genuinely put people in a better mood just by walking in a room.”
“Tyler had just finished phase one of rehab and was packed up for phase two the morning he passed away. At his funeral, one of Tyler’s teachers told me how Tyler helped a couple of students. There were two kids that sat in the quietly, in the back of the classroom, and didn’t engage with anybody. Tyler took it upon himself to make friends with them and include them. Tyler’s teacher made sure to tell me they graduated because of Tyler.”
“Yes, Tyler had an addiction. He was ready for help. He was excited about restarting his life. Sadly, he went with his girlfriend that afternoon to buy what he was told was Percocet. He later died of a fentanyl overdose. This person who sold him the pill was allegedly found later with matching pills to the one they found on Tyler. Others could easily have died as well. The same thing is happening all over our country EVERY DAY.”
“It’s only been four months and our souls are hurt. We want answers. We want people off the streets who are responsible for doing this to our kids. But it is a fight. Now, mothers like me tell their stories in hopes to bring awareness. No justice will ever bring my son back, but hopefully we do something to prevent more mothers from writing this same story.”
People have told us, ‘Devin made a choice and therefore he is responsible for the consequences of his choice.’ These people apparently believe my son and others like him, somehow deserved to die.
I don’t condone Devin seeking out a pain pill online after several vital doctor and dental appointments were cancelled due to the Covid-19 lockdown. But to say my son made a “choice,” is completely wrong.
Devin didn’t choose to take fentanyl. Natalia didn’t choose to take fentanyl. Tyler didn’t choose to take fentanyl. That choice was made for them without their knowledge by alleged drug dealers still walking free in our communities, preying upon people like them, first-time users, and those with substance use disorders.
Making our pain worse is the stigma involving their deaths. People have said ‘Devin, Natalia, and Tyler were junkies’ at the mere mention of the word overdose. Our children didn’t overdose—their deaths are the result of being poisoned to death by fentanyl.
To overdose would mean that Devin, Natalia, and Tyler knew what they were taking and how much they were taking. My son would never have taken anything that would lead to his instant death. The pill he and his friend allegedly bought from someone they knew from school via Snapchat was supposed to have been a Percocet. Devin had zero Percocet in his system at the time of his death. He had 100% pure fentanyl in his system. He was deceived to death.
Stigmas associated with substance abuse or mental health disorders are misguided. Shame does more harm to the person suffering from these disorders then most people realize. Those shameful feelings often cause people not to get help. It paints them into a corner and leads them to believe there’s no hope or chance at recovery. People CAN recover with the proper resources and support in their corner and go on to lead happy, healthy, productive lives—even if they go through recovery more than once. Support, encouragement, and accountability will help the person in recovery far more than shame or stigma.
Devin, Natalia, and Tyler are not the only ones to have lost their lives here in Hastings to fentanyl or illicit drugs. There are other families like ours suffering the same loss. We ask before casting judgment to take a moment to learn about fentanyl and the dangers lurking on social media sites. Those struggling with substance use disorders are nevertheless members of our community and their lives really do matter. They are still someone’s child, brother, sister, spouse, friend and are loved.
We opened the door to what our family has been through in hopes of saving even just one life. We couldn’t save our son. Our son never got a second chance. As a result, we’ll never see the dreams we had as parents come to fruition for Devin. We’ll never see him fall in love, get married, or have kids of his own. We’ll never get to see him rise to his true potential with his music career. Our family will never be complete again.
People think what happened to Devin, Tyler, and Natalia can’t happen to their families; I was naively once that parent. Never in a million years did I ever think something like this could happen to my son or any of my children. But it did. And it can happen to you or someone you love.