Father searches for answers following son’s apparent overdose death

New Jersey saw more than 3,000 drug-related deaths in the last year. Behind each of these deaths is a family left searching for answers. And for one father, that means visiting the place where his son lost his life.

News 12 Staff

Sep 20, 2021, 11:52 PM

Updated 942 days ago

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New Jersey saw more than 3,000 drug-related deaths in the last year. Behind each of these deaths is a family left searching for answers. And for one father, that means visiting the place where his son lost his life.
“My body physically hurts from missing my son so much,” says Ed Ippolito. “And I know there’s somebody out there that played a part in what happened to my son.”
Ippolito, of Hillsdale, often drives through the Newark neighborhood where his son Sean died on July 1. Sean was found dead on a street corner of an apparent drug overdose.
Sean Ippolito battled addiction for years after trying heroin at a party while in college and becoming hooked.
Ed says that he and his family thought that after another stint in rehab, Sean, who was in his late-30s, was clean. That was until the phone call the family received to say that Sean was dead.
“I talked to him at 9:07 p.m. and he sounded fine. What he did after that?” Ed says.
It is unclear if Sean died of an overdose or if the additive fentanyl played a factor. A full toxicology report is still pending.
Ed has come to the area where his son died often. It is the neighborhood where Sean would come from his home in Rutherford to buy drugs. He would sometimes spend his last dime on heroin and have to walk home.
“I can’t go any place without thinking of him and it hurts,” says Ed.
Ed sometimes looks for his son’s last phone or other belongings -- or any clue as to how Sean spent his last hours.
He points out the mesh installed in the nearby fence that is supposed to prevent dealers from passing drugs to drivers pulled over on the shoulder of McCarter Highway.
He sometimes scrambles up the embankment to the old rail bed where addicts come to do their drugs after purchasing them on the street. Ed knows this spot because his son used to come there too.
“And it’s just too easy for them to get their drugs, go up the hill and do their drugs,” Ed says.
He says that he wants to find a way to clean up the area. He called the Newark Police Department to ask for a greater police presence, but the police seemed to be overwhelmed. He also wants to see the brush along the train bed be cleared so that it is not as easy for dealers and users to hide. He considered doing it himself, but he realized that it was too big of a job for just one person.
Ed is one of the thousands of New Jersey residents who, if the trends continue, will lose a loved one to the opiate epidemic this year.
“The addiction is so darn strong,” he says.
But for now, Ed says he will keep driving by the neighborhood where his son died, walking in his footsteps and looking for any way to stop other families from feeling his pain.


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