9-Year-Old NY Boy Watches Father’s Death From Heroin Overdose
Two days after Zack Swoyer’s 9th birthday, he uncharacteristically went over to his father Shawn’s house at 11 a.m. on a weekday, January 17th, due to a snow day. Death From Heroin Overdose
Bobbie Perry, Shawn’s aunt and childhood caregiver, received a call from Shawn’s girlfriend at around 2 p.m., screaming that Shawn was unconscious and that EMTs were attempting to revive him. Shawn’s girlfriend confirmed to Bobbie that Zach was present.
Bobbie then immediately called Zach’s mother Christine Bowie, who arrived at the scene minutes later. She saw the police cars and ambulance, and that Shawn’s home was filled with police and paramedics. One of them brought Zack to the door as she waited outside – he was screaming and crying, unsure of what was happening.
Zack later told his mother that he had been playing video games with his father and that later, his dad and girlfriend went out for a while. When his dad returned, he went to the bathroom, and a short time later, heard the sound of his father collapsing to the floor.
The girlfriend started screaming and urged Zack to call 911.
He told his mother he then saw paramedics performing CPR on his father who lay dying on the bathroom floor. But Zack didn’t realize at that time that his father was dead and kept asking if he was okay or not.
His mother didn’t know what to say – she didn’t want to tell him until she could get some advice from his therapist on how to break the news. In fact, Zach, who has autism, attended school the next day – moreover, sticking to a routine is critical. Zach asked his teacher if his father was dead.
When he returned home, his mother told him what had happened. Eventually, he became angry, and couldn’t understand why his dad would hurt himself.
Since, Shawn’s death, understandably, life has been challenging for Christine and Zack. They drive past Shawn’s old house every day. A few days before Shawn’s 35th birthday anniversary, the family went to Kiwanis lake, where Shawn used to take Zack to go fishing and feed ducks. They released balloons in his memory.
You can read more here about Shawn’s childhood and adult trauma, and his struggles with prescription drug addiction.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology
Featured Image retrieved from Shawn Swoyer’s Facebook page, February 18th, 2018.