South Jersey family hopes to spread awareness to prevent tragedy

NEW JERSEY (WTXF) A South Jersey dad had everything to live for but a powerful addiction took his life. Now his family is trying to prevent other families from the same tragedy.

FOX 29's Karen Hepp has their emotional message.

They found 26-year-old Steven Schmincke on daughters bed- in a sea of pink- surrounded by stuffed animals and dolls. His heroin and spoon in his duffle bag. it was the day before Easter. 

His daughters, 4-year-old Abigail, and 5-year-old Cassidy, are gorgeous sweet little girls. They're growing up without a dad and a mom who is just getting her footing back. Heroin has devastated their family. It killed their dad, hooked their mom, and uncle- nearly an entire generation of one family.

Steven's fiancée Lizzy is pregnant with their third child. A baby he'll never see. She and Steven met in high school and they shared everything, including addiction.

"I can say now, I'm in recovery. Everything is better when your in recovery. You get family back you get your life back," Lizzy told FOX 29.

Steven's death was a crushing blow and also a family wake-up call. It was a catalyst for change, helping to push both Tammy toward sober living and cousin Donny to get help.

"I believe he saved my life," Donny said.

Donny saw what happened to Steve and knew the next funeral would be his. He vowed not to put his family through another heartbreak.

It's still so raw, Tammy wails for her son, racked with grief, they cry and pray for Steven and all those struggling. Never in a million years did they think it could happen to their totally average family living in Mays Landing.
it turns out the pull of heroin is stronger than even love.

So how did it all start? Donny says they just didn't realize what they were getting into, no one wants to become and addict.

That's why the Schmincke's are speaking out now. They'd like to scream warnings from the top of their lungs. 'Don't do it, 'don't try it,'  If you do get help. United in bright red shirts, they wear the message on their hearts- 'Stop the heroin.' They want families, communities, elected officials, and health experts to all come together to fight this growing epidemic before it spirals further out of control. 

The family is going to take Cassy and Abby to the beach in a few days--one of Steven's favorite places- for their gender reveal party. They'll release pink balloons if she's having a girl and  blue,if he's a boy. She hopes Steven will see their little family and know they're getting better and they promise his death will not be in vain.

The family would like to create a sober living community called Steven's House for people once they've been through rehab. 

To get help for heroin addiction, please click here.


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