The distraught father advised the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputy that the final time he noticed his 24-year-old son alive, round 8 p.m. Jan. 29, he was in his bed room.
A number of hours later, he awoke in the course of the evening to make use of the restroom and noticed his son’s gentle was nonetheless on.
Nick Zieska was supposed to go to Pasadena along with his dad early the subsequent morning for work on the family-run development firm, so Keith Zieska checked in on his son.
He opened the door and noticed his son’s head tilted again within the chair the place he was sitting.
Nick’s pores and skin was cool to the contact.
“I walked in and he was laid again in his chair, clearly useless, however nonetheless I attempted to resuscitate him, referred to as 911,” Keith Zieska mentioned Friday in a telephone interview from his present house in Groveland.
Emergency personnel got here shortly to their house within the 31600 block of Ridge Route Highway.
That tragic discovery turned Keith Zieska’s life the wrong way up, he mentioned.
He struggled with alcohol. He moved nearly 5 hours away and sought assist.
“My enterprise fell aside from this — I simply couldn’t do it anymore,” he mentioned. “My life is nothing prefer it was the day earlier than this occurred. It fully modified every little thing.”
Now he’s again at work, however he’s nonetheless ready for justice for these he feels are liable for his son’s loss of life.
“I might like to see them charged and jailed for second-degree homicide,” Keith Zieska mentioned. “I’m not a violent particular person, so I want to see them locked up in jail for a really, very very long time.”
A ‘good storm’
Health workers dominated Nick Zieska’s loss of life was the results of fentanyl intoxication.
Keith Zieska mentioned his son had his struggles earlier than his loss of life, and even sought an Alcoholics Nameless program to attempt to get wholesome.
“I knew there have been some medication that went together with it. He’d been out and in of remedy,” he mentioned. “I knew there have been points there, however I didn’t ever count on it to go to the extent of a fentanyl overdose.”
With the rise in such instances seen all through the nation, drug therapy specialists hear this chorus all too typically.
Between 2019 and 2020, the variety of overdose deaths elevated by 31% and three-quarters of these concerned opioids, in line with the newest Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention information obtainable.
Of these situations, 82.3% of opioid-involved overdose deaths concerned artificial opioids, a spike specialists attribute to fentanyl, an artificial opioid that’s 50 instances stronger than heroin and 100 instances stronger than morphine.
“It’s freaking in all places,” mentioned Cary Quashen, founder and president of Motion Drug Rehabilitation, who estimated that 25% of his purchasers had been knowingly making an attempt to detox from the drug, and a lot of the different 75% have some type of habit in a level to which they’re not even conscious.
Quashen attributed the unfold of the narcotic to circumstances that created what he referred to as a “good storm” the nation is now weathering.
Whereas the federal authorities was in a position to considerably cut back entry to quite a lot of prescription opioids in 2018 and 2019 attributable to their widespread abuse, it didn’t clear up the habit drawback, Quashen mentioned. It opened the door for one thing else.
Quashen, who operates a facility in Santa Clarita and in Kern County, the place the issue is even worse, mentioned he began to see the rise about six months earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic was recognized.
“A number of the motive is those that had been utilizing medication used extra medication, and on the similar time — and that is necessary, I feel — on the similar time that fentanyl got here into the image, the medical subject determined that oxy(contin) and all these medication had been addictive,” he mentioned. “So, they stopped writing prescriptions, which opened the door broad open for China and fentanyl and the cartels to start out making drugs. It was an ideal storm.”
After his son’s loss of life, Keith Zieska went by means of his son’s telephone and located a thread of messages despatched to his provider within the hours previous his loss of life.
The messages indicate that Nick Zieska was on the lookout for one thing to assist him sleep, in line with his father, who turned the telephone over to the authorities to help of their investigation. Additionally they appear to indicate the supplier knew what he was promoting was lethal, in line with a document of the textual content messages seen by The Sign.
A detective with the Sheriff’s Division’s Narcotics Bureau confirmed three Castaic males had been arrested on suspicion of possession of a managed substance on the market, however declined to debate whether or not they had been related to Zieska’s loss of life, citing an ongoing investigation.
“They had been all arrested on what they name Ramey warrants,” mentioned Sgt. Jason Viger, a member of the Overdose Response Activity Pressure, which the Sheriff’s Division shaped in July, throughout the course of his investigation into Zieska’s loss of life. “They had been arrested, introduced in and launched pending additional investigation.”
A Ramey warrant, in line with state legislation, is one a legislation enforcement official can request from a choose when there’s a possible trigger for arrest with out beginning the criticism course of for the charging of a felony or misdemeanor.
“The case is over with the assistant U.S. legal professional, and so they’ll make their determination whether or not to indict or not or no matter they determine to do,” he added.
When requested, Viger famous there exists a small distinction between the federal statute for a second-degree homicide cost and the California penal code. State legislation requires proving “malice aforethought,” or an intention to kill, which will be extraordinarily tough to show to a jury.
“The federal statute requires that you simply show somebody has data they’re promoting a managed substance, both a Schedule I or a Schedule II,” Viger defined, “and that that managed substance that they offered induced the loss of life of one other by means of ingestion. These are the weather for (the federal) statute.”
Court docket information obtained by The Sign point out a chilling dialog that happened between Nick Zieska and one in every of his alleged suppliers within the hours earlier than his loss of life.
“Dude that (expletive) is robust as (expletive)… I took one hit and I’m good dawg… I’m gonna sleep good tonight,” he wrote in successive messages.
“Yap it’s robust he says that ppl r oding off [sic],” got here the reply.
“Oh (expletive),” was his last message.
Representatives for the U.S. Legal professional’s Workplace and the FBI each emailed statements that indicated no case related to Zieska’s loss of life had been filed as of Friday.
Keith Zieska reiterated his frustration throughout an emotional retelling of that tragic January evening in Castaic.
“It’s a foul drawback, and one thing must be carried out,” Zieska mentioned. “Children are dying all over. It’s the toughest factor that somebody might must undergo. It’s simply not OK.”