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'A whole life ahead of him': Family of Arvada teen killed by fentanyl-laced pill speaks out

Family of Arvada teen killed by fentanyl speaks out
Posted at 10:40 PM, May 31, 2022

ARVADA, Colo. — It's a call every parent fears, but it's a call becoming more and more common. Adolescent deaths from overdoses have soared in the past three years, and one Arvada family is reeling from their own loss.

"My brother, he was only 15," said Gabriel Kreimeyer. "He definitely had a whole life ahead of him."

Kreimeyer's brother, Josiah Velasquez, was on life support for a week at Children's Hospital Colorado after taking a blue, fentanyl-laced pill inside an Arvada Dairy Queen on May 14. Arvada police confirmed to Denver7 officers are still investigating the teen's death.

Kreimeyer and his loved ones are hoping for accountability and answers after reviewing surveillance video of the incident.

"No one came over to help him," he said.

Velasquez's cousin, Kelley Harrington, echoed similar concerns.

"He was just laying there without any assistance for so long," Harrington said. "Could he have been saved?"

Harrington and Kreimeyer both described the 15-year-old as quiet, family-oriented and musically gifted.

The teen was also a freshman at Jeffco Virtual Academy.

"He could make these incredible beats. He knew all the latest technology, too," Kreimeyer said. "He loved it."

The older brother suspects his sibling would've pursued a career in music had these circumstances not occurred.

Amid funeral planning, Kreimeyer and Harrington are turning their efforts towards raising awareness about the dangers of fentanyl-laced drugs. According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, adolescent deaths from overdoses grew from 492 in 2019 to more than 1,100 in 2021.

Velasquez never used drugs, according to Kreimeyer and Harrington. They believe the 15-year-old was bullied and peer-pressured into the situation.

"These pills, literally, you take one and you have no idea what you're taking," Harrington said. "That's it. You don't get a second chance."

"I feel like he tried doing this to fit in," Kreimeyer added. "And that's one thing I want to get across to other people is — don't feel that you have to try something just to fit in, because at the end of the day, you are who you are, and he was a very good person."

Family members are screen printing shirts and candles with messages about Velasquez's story and fentanyl's dangers to help raise funds for the funeral.

"There's going to be another Josiah," Harrington said. "There will be another Josiah, but fortunately we can spread awareness. We just need more people having our back and on our side."

Anyone with information about Velasquez's death is asked to contact the Arvada Police Department.

Family members have also set up a GoFundMe to help raise money for funeral expenses.