Mother of teen who died of drug overdose pushing for stricter laws

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Last year, two South Tampa parents lost their teen daughter to an accidental drug overdose. Now, the mother of Katie Golden is turning her heartbreak and grief into action, pushing for stricter laws when it comes to those who simply offer deadly drugs to kids.

At 17 years old, Katie could fill a room with light. "She just always had a smile on her face," said her friend, Gabi Tischler.

The Plant High senior could also fill a room with music. "She was a wonderful musician," said her mother, Dawn Golden. "She could play piano by ear, she liked to paint, she was kind."

For as many glowing things as her mother can say about her, she's also now, sadly, forced to say this.

"She died in April of an overdose," Golden said.

Despite counseling, inpatient and outpatient programs, a drug habit that started in 10th grade ultimately ended Katie's life. The boy she was with on the night of April 14 said they'd taken heroin.

"She was doing really good was and one month from graduation and...made one bad mistake," Golden said. 

Through immense grief, Katie's mother has decided to take action. She's gathering signatures on for "Katie's Law." While it's already illegal to sell drugs, the law gets a little murky when it comes to helping kids get drugs. Katie's Law would change that.

"It's saying that you can't offer drugs to kids," Golden said. "Kids shouldn't have to make that decision. You shouldn't entice them, encourage them, you shouldn't help them get drugs, you shouldn't say hey, come over for a pill party, my parents are out of town."

Under the proposed law, even driving a minor somewhere, with knowledge that they're going there to get drugs, would be a crime.

"It's life and death, it's not fun and games, it's terribly dangerous and it can happen to anybody," Golden said.

Katie's friends know, all too well, the pressure to get high. Even in class.

"Once you're into high school, it's like, everywhere and it's like you feel like people are pressuring you into doing it," Tischler said.

"You could smell it and people would go out in the parking lots and smoke without people knowing," said friend Grace Bentschner.

They're hoping "Katie's Law" and her story will help take the pressure off.

"You don't have to do that. Just say no," said Bentschner.

"I think we need to change the culture of the schools and give kids a voice and be able to say, 'I don't like this, it's unhealthy, I'm uncomfortable, I'm afraid somebody is going to get hurt,'" Golden added.

So far, the petition has about 600 signatures. Dawn said she's meeting planned with Representative Jackie Toledo and hopes to continue gathering support from lawmakers in the coming year.

You can read more about "Katie's Law" at: