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As fentanyl deaths mount, the father of an Evans victim calls for awareness

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Fentanyl overdose deaths continue to mount in the Augusta-Aiken area, including at least two cases in Columbia County last week that claimed the lives of two friends.

Andrew Vowell, 27, of Evans, and Chandler Willingham, 26, were close friends who died hours apart last Wednesday in Columbia County at different places. The sheriff’s office is investigating the deaths.

A third area death of a young man, Matt McGlaughlin of Aiken, is also being investigated as a possible fentanyl overdose. He died Friday after his family made the excruciating decision to take him off life support.


Matt McGlaughlin

Vowell’s father, Jimmy Vowell, said he was devastated by the tragedy of Andrew and believes the deaths may have been from a bad batch.

“It’s too much of a coincidence,” he said. “Someone is purposely lacing their heroin or their opioid pills.”

Andrew Vowell’s girlfriend found him lying on the bathroom floor at his Evans home last Wednesday evening, according to a sheriff’s report. It was very sudden since Andrew had been playing golf outside and messing around in the shed around lunchtime. He was pronounced dead at the home.

Chandler Willingham was found a few hours before that on Wednesday morning by his mother at their Grovetown home. She told authorities that Chandler had a drug problem and likely overdosed in his bedroom, where she found him after waking up and seeing his bedroom light still on.

Jimmy Vowell said his son has been fighting the disease of drug addiction for ten years. And now, he is realizing that fentanyl is being peddled to young people and killing them in growing numbers.



As the father waits for his son’s body to be returned from the GBI Crime Lab, he is working to bring awareness that local families are losing loved ones and the person selling the drugs are killing people.

Chandler Willingham

“I am not going to let my son die in vain, if I have to be the biggest mouthpiece in this town,” Vowell said.

Deaths are mounting in Richmond and Aiken counties as well. Two Augusta deaths last week – a 51-year-old woman and 37-year-old man – are being investigated as possible overdoses, Coroner Mark Bowen said.

Richmond County recorded 66 fentanyl deaths last year.  This year, Richmond County has 37 confirmed deaths from fentanyl with a staggering 76 deaths pending toxicology tests before they can be officially recorded as fentanyl-related, Corner Mark Bowen said.

Aiken County had 44 fentanyl-related deaths last year, which is skyrocketing this year, Coroner Darryl Ables said. He said he has confirmed 62 overdose deaths so far this year, mainly related to fentanyl, and that is with dozens more not confirmed yet through toxicology.

 “Where will it stop at?” Ables asked earlier this year. “At what number? What is the magic number that says enough is enough? When are people going to wake up and see the dangers of trying this stuff?

“It’s not worth risking your life to try this stuff. In the world of drugs, the  last thing you are going to find on the streets is an honest drug dealer.”

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4 COMMENTS

  1. It will continue at long as the Socialist Democrats AKA American Communist are running the Constitutional Federal Republic into destruction.
    Looking at the 2022 midterm election, the American people still haven’t seen enough. Maybe by 2024?

  2. While all deaths are tragic taking illegal drugs of any kind has the potential risk of killing the persons taking the drugs . We lost the war on drugs decades ago and with the open border where enough comes in every day to kill is all nothing is going to change . Until we discover the root of why people chose this life style there is nothing that will stem the tide

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