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Parents of student who died of fentanyl overdose open up about son’s death

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SEATTLE – Two weeks after Gabriel Lilienthal took an opioid pill laced with fentanyl, the 17-year-old’s parents are opening up about their son’s death.

Lilienthal was a straight-A student at Ballard High School in Seattle.

His parents say their son was hardworking, compassionate and adventurous.

“Words can’t describe my son,” said his father David. “He was my sun, my s-u-n, and he was my moon and all my stars together.”

Lilienthal had plans to attend college in Australia, where his dad is originally from, and to pursue a career in business and finance.

His mother and father say there was never a day the family wasn’t spending time together.

“Hang out with his dad, go for a walk with me, play with the dog… this wasn’t a kid who was out partying out hanging out very often at all,” said his mother Deborah Savran.

“He was connected with us, either with his mom or me, he was connected all day every day, and it’s leaving a great hole in our lives,” said David.

Lilienthal died Sept. 29 after taking the pill in the early morning hours. Both Deborah and David say their son’s death feels like it came out of nowhere.

“It wasn’t like oh my God, our son is addicted to opioids and what are we going to do, we need to get him into rehab for this. It was like… what?” said Savran. “This wasn’t something that we were aware he was at risk of.”

Lilienthal isn't the only high school student in the Puget Sound region to die from a fentanyl overdose recently. In August and September, two teens from Skyline High School died after taking fentanyl laced pills. Their names are Tom Beatty and Lucas Beirer.

The families of the teens are now working together to spread awareness about the dangerous drugs so another young life isn’t taken.

In the coming days and weeks, there are community-wide events geared at educating the public on the dangers of these opioid drugs and the potential for them to be laced with a deadly dose of fentanyl.

Wednesday, Oct. 16, the Issaquah School District is holding a community meeting at 7 p.m. at Skyline High School to educate the community about drug overdoses.

Nov. 7, the City of Sammamish is holding a community forum at Central Washington University from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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