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Signs of the times: Baltimore County erects overdose signs

Posted at 5:53 PM, Aug 28, 2019

TOWSON, Md. — It's tough to put numbers on the opioid crisis.

"My hope is that when people see these signs, they'll be reminded, and they will remember that these numbers represent people," said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski.

780 overdoses in Baltimore County so far this year and 185 lives lost.

"185 mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, coworkers, neighbors, residents of Baltimore County," Olszewski said.

A previous administration had balked at advertising the fallout from the ongoing opioid epidemic, but Toni Torsch and her family, which created the Daniel Carl Torsch Foundation wouldn't take no for an answer.

They recruited sponsors to pay for eight signs to be erected at police stations throughout the county.

"Children should be holding the hands of a parent as they close their eyes for eternity, not the other way around," said Torsch.

Tragically, Toni learned this the hard way back in 2010 when her son, Dan, died at the age of 24 from an accidental overdose.

Pain pills prescribed for a sports injury had given way to heroin.

"From the very beginning, we wanted to make sure that other families weren't going to suffer,” Torsch said. “It's an indescribable pain. I mean even now, it'll be coming up on nine years and there are times when I have a complete meltdown knowing that I'll never get to feel that hug that a son can give his mom and I'll never hear his voice. I mean it's tough."

And so the Perry Hall family founded the foundation and has successfully fought for law enforcers to carry Naloxone, for a law protecting people from prosecution who report overdoses and, yes, for signs starkly reminding the public of the dangers of opioid addiction in tribute to the son whose life they could not save.

"I believe that somehow he's had a hand in guiding where we should be,” Torsch said. "It's all hands on deck and it's unfortunate, but by the time you go to sleep tonight, Maryland statistics say there's going to be seven more that will die in Maryland. Seven. Just today."