PLACER COUNTY, Calif. — A Sacramento man pleaded no contest to three charges, including involuntary manslaughter, in the 2020 fentanyl poisoning death of Rocklin teen, Zach Didier.
22-year-old Virgil Borden admitted in court this week that he knowingly sold counterfeit prescription painkillers to the Whitney High School student.
The plea means Borden accepts the conviction, but not guilt. He faces 17 years in prison during sentencing scheduled for September 1st.
Zach’s parents, Laura and Chris Didier said they are grateful their son is getting justice, but their fight to spread awareness of the dangers of fake pills does not end with a conviction. They want to make sure what happened to Zach doesn’t happen to anyone else, and they said too many people are still unaware that one pill can kill.
In 2020, they said Zach, was stressed like many teenagers. He turned to Snapchat and bought what he thought was Percocet.
“If you see anything marketed (online) as a medicine – Adderall, Xanax, Oxycodone, Percocet, don’t believe it,” Laura Didier warned.
The pills were counterfeit pharmaceuticals known as Fentapills.
Zach died from fentanyl poisoning. It’s a synthetic opioid 100-times stronger than morphine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, from April 2020 to 2021, more than 100,000 people have died from lethal doses of fentanyl, an increase of 28%.
“What’s surprising is how pervasive this danger is,” said Chris Didier.
The Didiers said they always had open conversations with Zach but weren’t aware of the dangers regarding fake pills cut with the deadly street drug, and how dealers used deception to sell it to young people on social media and money transfer apps.
“There are people out there targeting your age group. They want to get you addicted, and unfortunately some young people, they get a deadly dose like our son did,” Laura Didier said.
A deadly dose can be as little as two milligrams. According to One Pill Can Kill, a coalition of organizations raising awareness, 98% of street pills are fake and contain fentanyl. The Didiers weren’t able to warn Zach, but their mission now is to share this life-saving message with young people who may be thinking of self-medication.
“There are challenges and struggles and stress in the world that are real, your generation had to endure COVID lockdowns during a very difficult time in your life while you’re growing and learning your identity,” Chris Didier said. “Reach out to a doctor, your parents and friends you trust about getting the right resources to deal with these stresses. Stay away from anything sold on social media, because there’s an extreme chance it can kill you.”
(Editor's Note: The original article indicated that Zach Didier was overwhelmed with stress. It has been updated to reflect that he was experiencing the average stressors and anxiety for a teenager.)
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