Burnetts urge drug offenders to seize, act on ‘second chance’

It has been almost a year since David and Yvette Burnett lost their 16-year-old son Chase, who died after smoking a synthetic marijuana substance.

The Burnetts have crusaded against illegal drugs and specifically synthetic marijuana, but it was a different fight they took part in last week in a Fayette County courtroom.

They appeared as guest speakers in Fayette County’s Drug Court, which provides a two-year treatment program in lieu of criminal court to help drug addicts kick their habit and reclaim their lives.

The Burnetts watched as drug court participants approached the podium and spoke of their accomplishments and struggles over the past two weeks as they fight to stay away from drugs, held accountable by numerous random drug checks along with counseling and work in support groups.

David Burnett said he was impressed and amazed by the love and support in the room for the participants, who are working through counseling and other challenges in their efforts to get clean.

“I am humbled to hear each and every one of your amazing stories,” David Burnett said. “The love I felt in this room from all of you and your counselors, I didn’t even know this existed.”

The father then turned to the one thing each drug court participant has that his son did not get: another opportunity at life.

“You all are lucky: you have another chance,” he said. “We don’t have another chance. And we had a good kid. A student athlete, very handsome, very street smart. He was going places, he was going major places in life. He’d have been a phenomenal father, a great husband, just a lot of good things. The world would have been a better place had he stayed, but he made a mistake, only one time, and it cost him his life.”

David Burnett urged the audience to make good decisions in large part because they are loved by God and their families, “and we are not promised tomorrow.”

Synthetic marijuana is so inconsistent in terms of its chemical makeup and that is a big part of its danger,” Burnett said.

“You do not know what you’re getting, I promise you,” he said. “... It can shut your lungs down like it did for our son, or it can make you go brain dead or cause a heart attack.”

Yvette Burnett noted that synthetic marijuana can also bring on psychotic episodes and cause the user to hurt his or her family, or themselves. In one case, it caused a 14-year-old child to commit suicide, she added.

After his passing, many of Chase’s fellow students and friends wrote to the family pledging to avoid illegal drugs, Yvette said. Now the Burnetts are hoping that the drug court participants can likewise learn from Chase’s one mistake to help them turn their lives around too.