Dad: Drugs a huge problem in Kennett area

Photo by Fran Maye Andy Rumsford in his front yard with a photo of his daughter and a blue ribbon tied around his tree. Kacie died earlier this year of a heroin overdose.

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“She even bought (heroin) at Anson B. Nixon Park,” he said. “Heroin is in your town.”

Andy Rumsford

Father of Kacie Rumsford

By Fran Maye

fmaye@journalregister.com

The father of a 23-year-old Kennett woman who died of a drug overdose earlier this year pleaded with members of Kennett Square borough council last week to do more to prevent drugs from entering the community.

Andy Rumsford, whose daughter Kacie died in the family home on March 12, asked council to erect drug awareness banners in town, and to put a link to his drug awareness web site on the borough’s main web page. He also urged businesses to put drug awareness signs on their windows.

Rumsford told council that 35 people died of heroin overdose in 2012, and after talking with the county coroner last week, the county is on the same pace this year.

“In 2012,” he said, “37,000 people died of drug overdose in this country. That is equal to the combined population of Kennett Square, West Grove, Oxford, Avondale, Unionville, Toughkenamon and West Chester. Those people were wiped off the face of the earth because of drugs, heroin included.”

Rumsford said he later discovered Kacie bought her drugs near the Garage Youth Center on Union Street in Kennett Square, and near the Landhope Farms near Kennett High School.

“She even bought (heroin) at Anson B. Nixon Park,” he said. “Heroin is in your town. Buyers don’t need to go to Wilmington or Philadelphia when they can buy all they need right here in Kennett Square.”

Heroin, Rumsford said, can be bought for $7 a bag.

“With the first use you become an addict for life,” he said. “This is not a matter of willpower, this is a chemical brain disease. These are not bad kids, as some people seem to think. They are scholars, athletes, kids in college, in high school, all leading a secret life with a need to use.”

Rumsford said he will always grieve for his daughter, and urged parents to be vigilant about their children’s activities.

“This was daddy’s little girl,” he said. “How gut-wrenching is it to write your daughter’s obituary, choose the color of their coffin and pick out the clothes to bury your baby in?”

Since his daughter died, Rumsford has organized a team of people to help with his campaign, many of whom have lost a child to drug use. He has already staged several town meetings throughout southern Chester County warning residents about the dangers of drugs, and to tell them about his web site, kaciescause, com, which includes information about how parents can get help if they suspect their child is using. It also has information about current drug laws and current legislative action concerning drugs.

Ed Zunino, Kennett Square police chief, said 50 percent of crime in the borough is attributed to drug use.

“We’re doing what we can, but we need the public’s help,” Zunino said. “If you see something, say something.” The confidential drug hotline in Kennett Square is 610-444-5580.

Zunino said the department has an officer devoted solely to drug investigations, which is reimbursed through the municipal drug task force.

The next town meeting will be at Kennett High School on Sept. 25. In attendance will be high school administrators, state and local police, representatives from the Chester County District Attorney’s office, behavioral and health officials, district judges and EMTs.

A Kacie’s Cause chapter will soon be started in Kennett Square, and Rumsford said a community leader will be chosen to lead the cause.