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Listen: Former News Anchor Shares Story Of Daughter's Heroin Overdose

Paula Wissel
Penny LeGate shares her story while wearing her daughter's jacket.

Heroin deaths are on the rise in Washington and a high percentage of the overdoses are in people under 30. One Seattle mother wants to help put a human face to that statistic.

Speaking before a Heroin and Opioid Overdose Summit at the University of Washington, former news anchor Penny LeGate shared her heartbreak over her own daughter’s death. Listen to her story:

According to the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, deaths from heroin and other opiates grew by more than 300 percent between 2002 and 2013 in some Washington counties. In Snohomish County, for example, there was a 320 percent increase.

In Whatcom County, deaths increased by 308 percent. Although the increase was lower in King and Pierce counties, there was still an 80 percent hike in deaths from heroin and other opiates in King and a 152 percent rise in Pierce County.

Acting U.S. Attorney for Western Washington Annette Hayes said there’s a particularly disturbing trend in the increase in deaths.

“Really, one of the most striking statistics, I think, for our office is that so many of the overdose deaths that we’re now seeing are in folks under the age of 30. That’s a sobering statistic and one that we think the community needs to take into account,” Hayes said.

In King County in 2012, for example, there were 84 heroin deaths, up from 49 in 2009, with all of the increase happening among those under the age of 30.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.