Hoover father works to turn daughter’s fatal overdose into positive change
Mike Bailey never imagined his 20-year-old daughter would die from drug overdose.
“Anyone who doesn't think it will happen, be real careful,” Bailey cautioned. "She was a good Christian girl that grew up at Green Valley Baptist Church. She went to Hoover High School, was a cheerleader there for a few years, ended up going for a semester at Alabama.”
Bailey says Ashlynn began experimenting with drugs at just fifteen years old.
After years in and out of rehab, “she bought what she thought was heroin and it ended up being fentanyl and it was a lethal dose,” Bailey said.
Rodrigus Lee Pearson, 31, sold Bailey that dose. He pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to distributing fentanyl, resulting in Bailey’s death. Under the plea deal, Pearson faces a minimum of 20 years in prison.
“We have doubled down our efforts in the U.S. Attorney's Office in combating heroin, fentanyl and prescription opioids,” said Assistant U-S Attorney Greg Dimler. “You're more likely to die from an opioid overdose in Jefferson County than a murder, so this is one of our first priorities.”
“Maybe the drug dealers are seeing some stiffer penalties and maybe they'll change some of their ways,” said Bailey.
Bailey decided not be in court Monday for the plea change. He says he and his family reached closure months ago.
“Because we know where our daughter is,” said Bailey. “She was a born again Christian. We know she's in Heaven.”
Bailey wants to use his daughter’s story to help others.
He's working to put a face on the problem.
“We have a stigma in our community of a drug addict, what we view them as,” said Bailey. “I want them to see a drug addict as just another person who’s made a mistake.”
Bailey and his family launched the Ashlynn Bailey Foundation. It provides scholarships to addicts who want to go into ministry and they're also creating a devotion book to help other families battling addiction.
“Somebody else’s daughter we want to be helped since we lost our daughter,” Bailey said.
You can read more about the foundation at AshlynnBaileyFoundation.com