FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — A Florence man is turning tragedy into action, as he spoke with city council about starting an “American Fentanyl Association.”

Scott Gardner is advocating for this after his son died from an overdose last year. He told city council that since his son’s death, he’s dedicated himself to spreading awareness about the drug.

“I knew instantly he was dead,” he said.

Gardner’s son was found in his bathroom by his girlfriend in July 2022.

“I rush in, and there was my son,” he said. “He’s laying there in a fetal position. And he’s naked and his lips were blue.”

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, fentanyl is largely responsible for the increase in overdose deaths from 2019-2020.

SCDHEC reports that fentanyl overdose deaths increased by 105%.

The Florence County Violent Crime Task Force reports that it recovered almost six grams of fentanyl from 2022 to 2023.

Gardner said after telling his story at the city council meeting, he was surprised by the response of the council members.

“I thought it went OK, and I started to walk away and then the mayor said, ‘would you mind staying here for a second?'” he said. “And then someone asked a question and I thought he was done, so I went again, and she goes, ‘Mr. Gardner, if you don’t mind, would you stay a second?’ And one after another they asked questions.”

Councilman Bryan Braddock asked Gardner how he thought the council could help with the start of the organization. Gardner suggested creating a drug abuse awareness committee.

“Whether it’s little league soccer, baseball, football, church, school,” Gardner said. “Anywhere there’s mass quantities of young people. Young families. We need to educate them.”

Gardner and his son were close, they did everything together. He’s hoping the start of this association will prevent another family from going through the same heartache.

Gardner said that though the organization is in its early stages, they are looking to build an executive board and gain volunteers.

For more information on the group, click here.

* * *

Aundrea Gibbons joined the News13 team in May 2023 after graduating from Clemson University with bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and communication. Aundrea is a Marion native and graduated as salutatorian in 2019. Follow Aundrea on X, formerly Twitter, and read more of her work here.