NY teen dies of fentanyl overdose after taking just one fake Percocet

A 19-year-old college freshman from New York died of a fentanyl overdose after taking just one pill she believed to be Percocet, according to her grieving family.

Paige Gibbons, of Pittsford, was attending Hobart and William Smith Colleges with dreams of becoming a doctor when she and a friend popped what they were told was a Percocet pill in Nov. 2022.

“She was at a friend’s house, the parents were home, she and her friend were going to take a Percocet, which she thought was a Percocet,” Paige’s father, David Gibbons said in an interview with New York’s Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS).

“Unbeknownst to them, it was not a Percocet — it was 100% fentanyl,” he said.

Hours later, a police officer knocked on the Gibbons’ front door and told them that their daughter died of an overdose.

Paige Gibbons died of a fentanyl overdose in Nov. 2022. Instagram / Brooke Gibbons
From left: Kate Kaufman Gibbons, David Gibbons, Paige Gibbons, and Brooke Gibbons Facebook / David Gibbons

“It was the loudest yell I’d heard in my life,” David recalled of his wife’s reaction to the news. “I thought it was an intruder or something, because why was she screaming?”

Paige was with two friends when she took the pill, which one of them had purchased via social media. One friend also nearly died while the other ultimately decided not to take it.

“She trusted, maybe, her friend or her friend trusted somebody that they knew,” Paige’s mother, Kate, said. “We just thought of her as a little naive in that respect. Unfortunately, it cost her her life.”

Paige’s parents said their daughter was not a frequent drug abuser, which they confirmed with her friends. 

David Gibbons and Brooke Gibbons embrace at Paige’s funeral in 2022. YouTube / Christ Church Music Department
Paige and her friend took what they believed to be a Percocet. Instagram / Brooke Gibbons

“One mistake was obviously Paige’s worst mistake in her whole life,” David said. “We don’t want her to be judged for the worst mistake she made.”

Paige, who graduated from Our Lady of Mercy High School in Rochester, had planned to become a doctor.

Now, 18 months after her death, her family is sharing their own horror story in the hopes that they can save others from the same fate. 

Paige’s story will be one of several airing in an OASAS educational film titled  “Addiction: The Next Step” exploring the Empire State’s rampant fentanyl epidemic.

“I can’t believe that we still hear people, you know, having this same exact situation,” Kate said. “I want to shout it from the mountaintops and make sure that everyone knows: Expect that it will happen to you; expect that you will die if you try this.”

“It doesn’t discriminate,” David added. “Socioeconomically, race, religion. You take a pill, and you have a potential of dying that night.”

Paige Gibbons was a freshman student at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. VSCO / @paigegibs
Paige’s family are sharing her story to help educate the public about the dangers of fentanyl. Facebook / Paige Gibbons

Some 6,300 New Yorkers died of fentanyl overdoses in 2023, and 74,702 died nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The opioid can be fatal even in trace amounts, and is 50 times more powerful than heroin.

The Drug Enforcement Agency set a record in 2023 seizing 79.5 million fentanyl pills — more than 20 million more pills than the total amount seized in 2022.

Laboratory testing indicated that seven out of every 10 pills seized by the agency contained a lethal dose of fentanyl, the DEA said, and it’s not limited just to opioids. 

The agency said that high school and college students looking to purchase “study drugs” like Adderall online have also been exposed to fentanyl, Fox News reported.

While fewer teens than ever are abusing drugs, teen overdoses are on the rise due to the deadly effects of fentanyl, said Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, the coordinator of OASAS.

“We know with the internet and social media that kids can get what they think are real pills, but who knows where they’re made or where they’re coming from and what’s in them?” she said. “Fentanyl is finding its way into these pills and that can be deadly.”

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