• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Prince's overdose death 'brings back a lot of memories'

JENNIFER POWELL, left, and Sommer Melton are pictured with a framed image of Powell's younger sister and Melton's mother, Jolene Berger-Bowman, who died from a fentanyl overdose on July 1, 2015. During an interview on Tuesday morning, Powell said she wants Prince's overdose death to raise public awareness about fentanyl. "That word, of course, caught my attention immediately," she says. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

When Jennifer Powell heard news reports that Prince had died from an accidental overdose of the opioid fentanyl, she wondered if he was like her sister, and didn't know what he was putting into his body. She wondered if the music icon knew he was taking a drug that's 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and "so, so dangerous." If nothing else, Powell wants Prince's overdose death to raise public awareness about fentanyl. "That word, of course, caught my attention immediately," she says. "And it brings back a lot of memories." Powell's younger sister, Jolene Berger-Bowman, died from an accidental overdose of the fentanyl on July 1, 2015. She lived in Versailles - a small Central Kentucky town - and seemingly had little in common with Prince, who was loved by millions of fans worldwide. And yet they both died from an overdose of fentanyl. Powell hopes Prince's overdose death will get people in this country to "pay a little more attention to what is happening around us. Everyone can be affected - Prince, myself, you." Because of what she's learned in the months since losing her sister to an overdose, Powell knows no one is immune from becoming an addict. "It's crazy. It's absolutely ridiculous. It's such a waste. It really is," she says. "The frustration is this is a completely preventable disease - and it is a disease," says Powell. She says CDC statistics that show more people are dying from drug overdoses than being killed in car accidents should be eye-opening to everyone. "Dealing drugs - distribution of illegal drugs - is against the law. We have to enforce our laws. We have to keep the drugs off of the street. We have to train our doctors to be more aware of what they're prescribing to people," says Powell. Whenever Powell drives to downtown Versailles from her home, she passes her sister's gravestone at Rose Crest Cemetery. She visits and talks to Jolene every week because "in my mind that's the only thing I have left to do." Asked what she misses most about Jolene, Powell says, "We laughed about the same dumb things. We liked the same dumb music. And I could pick on her and she would take it. And she would give it right back. And she was just my little, baby sister."

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