SEASIDE HEIGHTS - Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers still mourns the death of his son William Akers Jr., 29, after five months.
William, otherwise known as "Bobbers" or "Billy," died from a heroin overdose last October. The men accused of selling him the heroin have been arrested and charged.
Mayor Akers is sharing his story as a way to urge parents to pay attention to changes in their children and hopefully saves lives.
"You don't want to be that guy who missed something. I can promise you that because it will never go away," says Akers. "I don't know what I missed."
William was just 15 years old when he started using marijuana. His drug use quickly escalated to pills and by the time he was a high school sophomore he was taking heroin.
"He made the first mistake by putting a needle in his arm," Akers says. "The only way you can ever stay away from the stuff is to never do it because once you do it, it's a life sentence."
Akers and his wife had William in and out of hospitals, detox programs and rehab centers. They believe he was in part self-medicating his bipolar condition.
"We tried everything. I would keep my son in for months on end and he'd be out two days and we'd be dealing with this again,” says the mayor.
William overdosed in his bedroom at his parent's apartment above the family’s restaurant. His family says it was especially hard because they thought it was the one place they could keep him safe.
Mayor Akers says the loss has left his family broken, but now he hopes to help other families in similar situations.