‘I didn’t think it was real’: Father still in shock after 9-month-old dies from fentanyl overdose

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – The 17-year-old father of a 9-month-old baby that died after suffering from a fentanyl overdose is still in disbelief after his son’s untimely death.

Phillip Word and his father said they are numb after the loss of Elijah.

“He didn’t even have a chance to start walking and stuff,” Elijah’s grandfather said, who is also named Phillip Word.

The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office said the child’s mother told deputies she gave Elijah what she believed was cocaine to help put him to sleep because she was tired, but the drug turned out to be fentanyl.

The incident happened at a home on Deerfield County Club Road. Residents of the home told News4JAX that the 17-year-old mother is a family friend, who would come and go, but on the day of the incident, she was not supposed to be there.

The young father didn’t see his son much but said if his son’s mother was tired that day, he would have taken him — no questions asked.

“It was amazing. It’s just really the best feeling, just to meet your first kid for the first time and hold them,” Elijah’s father, Phillip said. “I just wish I would’ve actually got to be able to get to know him and raise him.”

Elijah died at the hospital, and his father said he learned about his son’s death from a friend, who texted him.

“I didn’t think it was real,” he said.

At the time, Phillip did not have the whole story about his son’s death.

The medical examiner ruled Elijah’s death a fentanyl overdose, saying the child had enough fentanyl in his system to kill 10 people.

“He had a whole other family that he never got to meet,” Phillip said. “They loved him. They never got to meet him and had the most love that they could for him.”

The mother was arrested and charged with manslaughter. Word said he wants to see stronger charges against her.

The Department of Children and Families and the NCSO are still investigating the case.

Visit fssjax.org or bettertogetherus.org for resources to help struggling parents.

About the Author:

A Florida-born, Emmy Award winning journalist and proud NC A&T SU grad