'Fentanyl kills' billboard in Jarrell provides important warning for teens, parents
JARRELL, Texas - A new billboard in Jarrell provides an important warning, as several local teens have died from fentanyl overdoses.
The billboard shows a picture of Cameron Stewart. He went to school in Cedar Park and died in 2021 from a fentanyl overdose.
Cameron's mother Becky was anticipating, and in a way, dreading the new billboard.
"It's going to break my heart. It's such a weird dynamic to be in because, wow. My kids on the billboard, right? Not in the way I wanted them to be on the billboard. Maybe a business advertisement where he's the CEO of something would have been pretty awesome. But to know his message is still being carried on, but just not in the way I wanted it to be," said Becky Stewart.
- State legislation filed in 2023 session would legalize fentanyl test strips
- Sen. John Cornyn meets with Hays County law enforcement, families affected by fentanyl
- Hays CISD 14-year-old student dies from suspected overdose, City of San Marcos says
Now, as vehicles flash by on the interstate, a message on the electronic billboard shows a warning. 200 deaths a day, "fentanyl kills, just ask my mom."
"The parents should know exactly how dangerous this is. They should say and never say, Not my child. They need to know what the facts are. They need to know what it's in, what fentanyl is in. They need to know the dangers lurking around every corner. These aren't your typical go to the bad part of town and find somebody on the street corner selling drugs. These are peer selling to peers. Children killing children," said Stewart.
The billboard in Jarrell and another in Smithville on Hwy 71 are provided free of charge by Media choice. Regan Outdoor, Stewart told FOX 7, is going to provide more, although she is paying for the vinyl covers.
A $25,000 grant from the Williamson County Sheriff's Office helps cover that cost and pay for other materials used her in speaking engagements.
The teen deaths in Texas are a frightening concept, but WilCo Judge Bill Gravell agrees it’s also a hard fact that hits home.
"I have to say that it's an epidemic I think is a significant understatement. We're losing children in Williamson County every week to fentanyl. And I really believe it's time for America to stand up and lead. I believe that because we've changed and continue to change the rules at the border. And they're ambiguous and unclear that not only do we have a flood of people coming across the border, but more importantly, we have fentanyl pouring across the border every day. And I don't know what it's going to take for America to wake up. Does it have to be your child that dies? Does it have to be your grandchild that dies? Listen, kids make choices. But when we put horrible opportunities in front of them, like fentanyl, it's costing them everything. And our children are worth more than that," said Judge Gravell.
The Jarrell billboard includes a second warning message with the faces of other fentanyl victims. The teens are from Hays County.
"It kills. I'm here to tell you. And parents need to know. It needs to be a pretty bold message like that. And it took my breath away when I first saw it come back to me from the designer. But that's what needs to be out there," said Stewart.
The Jarrell and Smithville sites will be up for a month and then will rotate to other sites when space is available.