Age: 22 | State: Florida | County: Marion | Case Status: No Investigation
To whom it may concern:
FENTANYL HAS TAKEN MY CHILD AND NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE, IT’S SEEKING TO DESTROY YOURS TOO. The American Dream is now a Nightmare.
I am a 46-year-old mother with 5 children, a husband and 2 dogs. Our home is in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia & located in the southwestern region of the state. Dickenson County lies along the crest of the Cumberland Mountains, on the eastern Kentucky border, forming what is known as Pine Mountain. Our area is known for the natural beauty of its magnificent landscape, as well as the abundant natural resource of coal. The most important natural resource, however, is our people, our culture and the deep-rooted heritage of a different kind; we are Appalachian. Bluegrass music developed here and Country music very close also; as we all have heard of famous legendary artists and musicians.
Most men here make a living in the coal mining industry and my daddy was no different. After many years of hard work and over 50 years of marriage, my parents were finally able to acquire a winter home in Marion County, Florida. Winters in the mountains of Virginia are hard on old folks, and Daddy enjoys fishing Lake Weir.
Our oldest son, Simon, didn’t want to follow his ancestors underground mining coal, so after graduating high school in 2020, he completed Lineman school. He’d hoped the job market would be better and he moved to live with his grandparents near Ocala. Like most young adults, Simon wanted to experience all that life had to offer. He was anxious to see different places and meet new people. My parents helped us raise Simon and his siblings which made the move somewhat easier. I don’t have brothers or sisters, so he and my parents were especially close, in particular, to my daddy.
Even as a very young child, Simon was always “ahead of his time”. He was fascinated with history, US History specifically. He was amazed how the Cherokee Indians had first lived here and that just over the hill at Cumberland Gap, Daniel Boone first crossed the Appalachian’s to create the Wilderness Road. He quickly learned how our region of determined rugged people played a monumental roll in the United States gaining its independence in 1776. Simon was told about how his great-great grandpa made his living making and selling moonshine. He was immensely proud to learn that he would be the 8th generation to be “handed down” this beautiful mountain top land. He also knew about our great aunt who could “pray away” warts and had been told about the man who had blown into his own mouth when he was a newborn and cured “the thrush”, our word for oral yeast, that babies often get. We are Appalachian. Our cultural traits and characteristics: Religious, Solidarity, Personalism, Love of Place, Modesty and Sense of Being Oneself, Sense of Beauty, Sense of Humor, Patriotism” (Jones 1991:170)
Simon, always personable and engaging, made friends in Florida right away. He found work in a in a nice restaurant as a server and relished in the attention his accent drew. He was very well spoken and articulate but with a strong and very distinct Smokey Mountain twanged accent. He loved to use the old funny sounding phrases, tell all the Big Tales and sing the old folk songs from the mountains. He made a host of friends and his mejor amigo. He had met a beautiful girl and told me, “Momma, I think I am falling in love”.
Simon was very proud to complete the requirements to become an official resident in the great Sunshine State. Simon was employed in Marion Co FL, he paid taxes there, and did his best to become a productive citizen.
Simon was outgoing, outspoken and a natural leader. Those who knew Simon described him as kind and loyal. He was brilliant, brave, charming and creative. He was ABSOLUTLY hilarious and could rock a guitar. Always fair and true to his word. Never thought he was better than anyone else and put people in their place if they acted that way. Just as handsome as humble, he made everyone around him feel better about themselves. He loved his life, was proud of who he was and who he was becoming. Destined for big things, but Fentanyl stole that future.
Simon Finley Dotson, age 22, was found dead in his bed by his grandparents in their Marion County, Florida home on the morning of April 18, 2023. Simon left behind 3 sisters: Saydee, Molly and Lucy Claire; 1 brother: Oliver, and a 13-month-old nephew, Crue, whom he simply adored; our lives forever changed in an instant.
My home and my people back in these hills and hollers have been targeted in the past. Years ago, coal businesses ravaged our beautiful landscape and stole our ancestors’ mineral rights. Then came Richard Sackler & his greedy family with their infamous Oxycontin. They targeted the hard-working miners, who are known for continuing to labor through their debilitating injuries to provide for their families. There isn’t a single family where we live whose lives have not been negatively impacted by the opioid epidemic. Not one.
My family and I beg for your help. We pray someone, somewhere will listen to what we have endured since the 18th day of April. Someone to explain why Fentanyl continues flooding into our country with no purpose but to destroy lives. We have suggestions that can certainly assist law enforcement in counteracting this act of war on our soil. We need our government officials to put a stop to this. Please help us find answers as well. We must stop the murder of our young people across America. Fentanyl is being weaponized by targeting our youth, destroying the future parents, workers and leaders of this great country. Why invade and start a war when they can wipe out our possibilities first without a shot fired. Tragically, this story line is becoming far too common. Now is the time to put a stop to this terrorism.
My son’s Fentanyl poisoning, like most others, was unremarkable. Our story may sound the same as all the rest, while unfortunately that is correct, to my family, Simon’s death is a call to action. My people, his people, our community, have a deep sense of what is right & what “ought” to be. We can’t bring him back but maybe we can stop this from happening to others.
I have a moral obligation, as a mother, to warn others. Please help me restore hope in the hearts of my children, whose world has seemed to stop turning. It is with utmost urgency that this is stopped. Law enforcement must be trained properly to conduct all suspected Fentanyl overdose deaths differently in America in 2023. Please forward this to anyone and everyone.
We must protect our future! Your children, my children and the lives of every single American are in grave danger. GOD HAVE MERCY ON US ALL!