Ret. ADM. James Winnefeld, USS Sioux City sponsor Mary Winnefeld share story of son’s death

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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) – Students at Bishop Heelan High School heard from Retired Navy Admiral James Winnefeld, and his wife, Mary, the sponsor of the USS Sioux City.

They shared the very personal story of how the opioid crisis tragically touched their lives.

“Our goal is to try and prevent one of these wonderful young men and women in this community from falling into the same thing that cost us our son,” says Retired Navy Admiral James Winnefeld.

Just last year retired Winnefeld and his wife Mary lost there son to an opioid overdose.

“We lost our wonderful son, Johnathan just over a year ago to a Fentanyl laden dose of heroin in Denver, Colorado. John was a great kid, starting as a Freshman in college. You know, this just shows that it can happen to any family, it can happen to anybody,” says James Winnefeld.

The Winnefeld’s now have a non-profit called Stop The Addiction Fatality Epidemic, or SAFE.

They do a number of things including family outreach, educating high school students and making more resources available to those who need it.

“Treatment and recovery from an opioid addiction is possible. It takes a lot of love and it takes a lot of support. It takes a lot of determination on the part of the person who is trying to recover,” says James Winnefeld.

Students at the event say they took away a lot from the conversation with the Winnefeld’s.

“I never realized, it could happen to anyone,”  says Kate Gill, a senior at Bishop Heelan High School. “I just thought ‘oh, it happens to people who start using drugs in high school.’ But, it could happen to just someone that got prescribed for an illness. it could happen to anyone.”

Ashly Richardson

Ashly Richardson

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