At a weekly Reader meet-up, at North Park’s Claire de Lune coffeehouse, I was prepared to hear typical neighborhood concerns from residents; too much graffiti, not enough police, errantly positioned stop signs, the usual type of concerns, all genuine and legitimate, but typical.
As I jotted them down, I noticed the lady to my right. Her eyes were cloudy and glassed over. She gripped a framed picture of a teenage girl. She appeared distracted and anxious, though, waited politely as the others spoke.
One Hillcrest resident complained about her car being vandalized and the subsequent inaction from the police. She interjected. “You have to remember that your problems are way down on the totem pole.”
“They might be way down for some people, but they are way up high for me,” the resident responded.
There was silence, and it signified it was time for the next speaker. She handed over the framed picture.
“This is my daughter, Kelsea.”
“How old is she?” I asked, unsure of a good way to respond.
“She was 17. She died in August of 2006.”
Again, there was silence. Kelsea’s mom, Tracy Moe, went on to explain. How one night her daughter complained about a sore throat and stiff back to her friend’s mom, Laura Wion. She gave Kelsea a prescription bottle. There were twenty pills in all, a mixture of penicillin for the sore throat and methadone for her back. There was a handwritten note on the bottle that said take as needed.
The next morning Kelsea was found dead in her bedroom from an apparent overdose.
“Sentencing is this Friday of the woman who gave these pills to my daughter, at the El Cajon court and I want the courtroom to be packed. I want everyone to know, so that it doesn’t happen again. This has ruined my life. I’ve lost everything and I want to make something positive out of this,” she said in between tears and lengthy stares up at the ceiling.
Wion, who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and child abuse, will face anywhere from four to six years in prison at Friday’s sentencing.
Moe wants more to be done. She wants a law, Kelsea’s Law, which requires warnings to be on prescription bottles about the dangers of giving prescribed pills to minors. “I don’t want anyone else to have go through this.” Instead, she wants set consequences for those who give minors pills and, more importantly, she wants awareness.
I gave my condolences. Moe left. Again, the table was silent.
“I see why she thought my problems were low down on the totem pole,” said the Hillcrest resident.
Sentencing for Laura Wion is at 1:30pm on Friday, July 25th at the El Cajon Courthouse.