Family speaks of woman who died from accidental fentanyl overdose, shares GoFundMe after funeral costs

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 5:08 PM MDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2022 at 5:32 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Fentanyl continues to take lives in southern Colorado, and family members of those passed fear they’re not the last family to experience the tragedy.

Sarah Claudio-Grizzel, 31 years old, died in early June. An autopsy report from the El Paso County Coroner’s Office says accidental fentanyl overdose was the cause of death. Her mother-in-law says she doesn’t believe Claudio-Grizzel knew she was putting fentanyl into her body.

“She had back problems because of a nasty accident and so she had befriended someone that lived across the hall from them. She had asked them for a pain pill until she could get to the pain management clinic,” said Stephanie Higbee.

Higbee says she and her family want justice for her daughter-in-law. KKTV 11 News first reached out to Colorado Springs Police and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office about this case in late July. After several days, the sheriff’s office said the case is now being investigated by CSPD’s Metro Vice Narcotics and Investigations Team. A spokesperson for the police department acknowledged that is the case, but declined to provide any further details.

“They need to do something to stop this,” Higbee added when speaking with KKTV. She and her family paid for Claudio-Grizzel’s funeral, which they say is one of the factors that recently drove them into homelessness. For more on their story and their GoFundMe page, click here.

When it comes to the greater fentanyl issue, experts say it is becoming increasingly common for fentanyl to be laced in what’s sold on the street as common pain pills.

“With the recent fentanyl lacing of so many medicines, and it’s occurring in medicines even like Tylenol found on the streets,” said chief medical officer for Centura’s Penrose and St. Francis hospitals, Dr. Bill Plauth. “In the past it was always considered someone seeking out to get high or something along those lines. That’s not the case now. People may be just reaching out for regular pain medicine ... we just cannot be using medicines off the street.”

Higbee says she hopes people head that warning, so that more families don’t have to go through what hers is.

“Sarah just wanted to stop the pain, she didn’t want to die. ... Fentanyl is killing so many people, it’s ridiculous. I just never thought that it would hit this close to home. I didn’t think it would be my son’s wife.”

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