CENTER GROVE,Ind. (May 10, 2015) -- Jeanine Motsay never set out to be an anti-drug crusader. She was a Center Grove mom, set to celebrate Mother's Day a year ago when a Johnson County Sheriff's deputy told her that 16-year-old Samuel, her basketball-playing-healthy-eating son, was dead and investigators weren't sure why, but evidence of a new mystery drug was found near his body.
The drug was called 25i-NBOMe and besides Sam and his friends and the two young people accused of selling it to him and the convicted felon charged with making it, almost nobody had heard of it.
Including the investigators who found it.
A year later, Motsay and Sam's little brother, Nick, are at the forefront of a campaign that has educated tens of thousands of Hoosier teens and parents as to the dangers of the unstable psychedelic synthetic as well as its more well known drug cousins, spice and bath salts.
"What happened a year ago with Sam, with synthetic drugs, the landscape has changed," said Jeanine. "Our laws have changed, the compounds that are making up the synthetic marijuana, the chemical structure has changed just in the last few months. There has been an enormous increase in the number of calls to poison control centers across the country and people are dying."
Motsay channeled her grief into action, establishing samswatch.org to educate and alert visitors of the threat of the unknown.
In the last year, since the nightmare Mother's Day of 2014, Jeanine has hosted forums across Indiana and helped bring National Drugs Facts Week programs to 45 state schools and thousands of children.
"When I get done talking kids come up and give me a hug and I feel that," said Sam's mom, wiping tears from her eyes. "I think that I faced the worst day of my life and I don't think there will ever be a day that is that awful and devastating and I've progressed past that."
Sam's Watch will sponsor the Substance Awareness Family Education (SAFE) forum at Franklin Community High School May 20.
State Senator Jim Merritt, Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox and others are expected to participate in a panel discussion to explain what's changed since Samuel Motsay's death and the challenges that life ahead.
"There are more people out there like Sam than not," said Jeanine, "and I don't want this to happen to them and I don't want this to happen to their family."