16-year-old Cooper Davis is remembered as an adventurous and outgoing kid. He was into a lot of extreme sports.
His mother, Libby Davis of Shawnee, Kansas, said that she and her husband Randy would watch him with “one eye cracked open.”
“Just cause, you know, in his mind there was nothing that was too high or too fast,” she explained in a Friday interview with Fox News Digital. “He loved life.”
His parents, who work in the medical field, knew he had been using some marijuana recreationally, but did their best to try to curtail that use.
“We were not aware that he had ever used anything that resembled a pill before,” she said.
Her son was hanging out with his girlfriend and three other boys at a friend’s house last year.
One of the friends had purchased what they believed to be two Percocet pills from a Missouri dealer using Snapchat.
They shared the blue pills – Cooper took half of one – not knowing that they were fake and laced with the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
While Cooper’s friends survived, he did not.
Davis and her husband received a call from Shawnee police saying that their son was having a medical emergency, and headed to his location.
“By the time we got there, they had already been working him, basically, for about 40 minutes,” she added.
Davis was transported to the emergency room, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. A toxicology report revealed that there was no Percocet in the pill.
Following their son’s death, the Davis family made “Keepin’ Clean for Coop” bumper stickers and started the Cooper Davis Memorial Foundation, with the mission of spreading awareness around the dangers of counterfeit pills – and the aim of saving lives.
“So, we immediately knew we had to try to reach as many people as we could to make sure they were aware of this dangerous drug that’s floating around every community in America,” Davis said, noting she wanted Cooper’s story to serve as a cautionary tale.
“It only takes one time,” she pointed out, advising parents to continuously talk to their children about the dangers.
Davis said it hasn’t gotten easier to talk about what happened to her son.
“It really isn’t real until I have to say it out loud. And, I tell people my life is confusing because when I go to do things like this, I think: ‘This is great. I’m so excited to be able to do this,'” she said of the interview. “And then, in the same thought, I’m thinking: ‘There’s no place that I wish I didn’t have to be today other than what I’m about to do.”
While Cooper’s case is still under investigation, Kansas Republican Sen. Roger Marshall introduced a bipartisan bill on Friday that is named for her son.
The Cooper Davis Act recognizes that drug cartels responsible for fentanyl trafficking have set up distribution networks online using social media platforms.
The measure would require social media companies and other communication service providers to take on a more active role in working with federal agencies to combat the illegal sale and distribution of drugs on their platforms.
The act was announced during a Friday morning press conference in Overland Park, Kansas.
Marshall and seven other Republican senators sent a letter to the CEOs of Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok last week, calling on them to identify the “steps [the] companies are taking to protect children and crackdown on illegal drug sales on [their] platforms” and “[recognize] the role [the] platforms play in the evolving illicit drug ecosystem.”
“This was not an overdose. This was poisoning,” Marshall told Fox News Digital. “And, that’s what my message is today. It’s to all the attorney generals out there across the state, the federal prosecuting officers, the county attorneys … This is murder. And, it should be prosecuted as such.”
The senator, who practiced medicine in Great Bend for more than 25 years, said that social media companies should be proactive in looking for drug emojis and sales.
Davis pointed out that cartels have created a drug emoji code.
Social media companies would be required to alert the authorities when they see these codes.
“Kansas saw the second-highest increase in overdose deaths last year in the entire country. Just emphasizing that we’re at this crossroads of the drug trafficking – that we do look like we’re a border state,” Marshall said.
Fentanyl, he says, is cheap and readily available for young adults who are self-medicating.
“They feel depressed. They can’t concentrate. So, they get this Adderall prescription online,” Marshall continued. “And, the Adderall, or Xanax is another one of the big ones … and they’re laced with fentanyl.”
The senator believes the fentanyl crisis should be declared a public health emergency.
While fentanyl overdose deaths are high, they are not the leading cause of death among all U.S. adults. The CDC also says it has not yet verified that fentanyl is the top killer among Americans ages 18-45.
However, the CDC said in a July address to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in that provisional data does show that more than 107,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in the 12 months ending in January, with 66.5% of those deaths involving synthetic opioids and primarily illicitly manufactured fentanyl.
That same data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics showed deaths from synthetic opioids increased from more than 57,800 in 2020 to 71,238 in 2021.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has said she had conversations with Health and Human Services Sec. Xavier Becerra about declaring the crisis a public health emergency but did not say whether she had recommended that to Becerra.
Fox News’ request for comment from the CDC was not immediately returned.
Davis, Marshall and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are warning about rainbow fentanyl ahead of the Halloween holiday and spotlighted a DEA program called Operation Engage.
Operation Engage was created to address the drug epidemic nationwide and connect field offices with their communities.
“The Cooper Davis Act is trying to save lives, but we know that the real root of the problem is a porous southern border,” Marshall asserted, saying that he had seen firsthand how border agents were so busy trying to keep up with illegal migrants that they could not keep up with the cartels.
Marshall and five Kansas sheriffs traveled to the southern border in May for a tour and meetings with federal and Texas state officials.
In an August Justice Department release, U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman called the amount of fentanyl being seized at the border “staggering.”
“Again, Kansas went from one death a day to four deaths a day this year. This is truly the number one health issue for young adults in the state of Kansas,” he concluded.
The Kansas Prescription Drug and Opioid Advisory Committee reported in Nov. 2021 that synthetic opioid overdose deaths, mostly caused by fentanyl, increased by 130% from 2019 to 2020.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.