Submitted by his mother, Sandy Mattingly

A sweet young man

Chase was smart as a whip, a whiz at mathematics. He was a bright shining star who would give you the shirt off his back if you were in need; a caring young man who would turn his car around and move a turtle out of harm’s way in the street. He had a mountain of friends. He was very witty and humble, strong at times, and he always tried to maintain a positive demeanor. He was also curious, very stubborn and vulnerable. Who isn’t at that age? 

He said ‘it would all be OK’

Chase was very positive and always stood up for the underdog. He had friends who lived in toxic home life environments that included substance abuse. He would always be there to console them when things were bad. Once, after attending an opioid awareness event, a young woman approached me when she found out I was Chase’s mom. She said that a teacher had yelled at her in a school class one day, making her cry. She said Chase turned around in his seat and told her it would all be OK. (He probably also had some choice names for the teacher, knowing Chase.) She indicated that she always remembered and appreciated that about Chase, and it warmed my heart and made my day.  

Trying to find his place

Chase was no angel. He got in his fair share of trouble over the years, as they all do. However, at only 21, he was trying to find his place in life. Chase was working a full-time job with a large paving company. He was paying rent, his phone bill, his car loan and insurance. He was working hard to grow up responsibly and become a successful adult, to find his way in life. He enjoyed most sports, liked the outdoors, liked to box and lift weights. He was, in most cases, a happy, healthy young man with a wonderful future to look forward to. 

Favorite memories

There are too many to write, and I’m continually running into people in our community who share their stories of Chase with me when they realize I’m his mom. It’s wonderful to hear these stories and that they remember him so fondly.

Chase and his sister Brooke maintained a close relationship despite the fact that they went to different parents after our divorce (Chase with me, Brooke with her dad). Brooke is seven years older than Chase, and once she was older and had a car, I loved it when she would come get him and take him on adventures. 

Because of a life insurance policy I never knew he had, I decided to use the bulk of the funds to establish a nonprofit in Chase’s name. I also set aside a few of the funds to take my daughter Brooke on a camper van road trip out west — an adventure where we could breathe, bond and share our grief together. We took Chase along with us, and I was able to spread some of his ashes at the Grand Canyon and have this special time with my daughter.  

His proudest accomplishment

Chase with his pride and joy

Chase was so proud when he was finally able to purchase the car of his dreams, a Toyota Scion FR-S. I cosigned the loan with him, and just two days before he died he was excited to tell me that he was able to refinance and take me off the loan. It was remarkable timing, as I would have been financially liable for the rest of the payments had he not done that.

The last time I saw him

The last time I saw him was just the evening before he died, when he came home for dinner. He always thanked me for cooking and was home for dinner more often than not. But he was also in and out with friends and work and such. We always kept in touch. Unfortunately, the last text to my son was, “Where are you?”

How he’d want to be remembered

Chase would want me to use his memory to fight to help bring awareness of this epidemic to the forefront. He would want to help as many as he could.

Since my son’s death, I have created a nonprofit in his honor and memory: Chase B. Mattingly for the FIGHT, Inc., also known as POSITIVEVIBES. The purpose of this organization is to promote positive thinking in order to make better choices, to educate our parents, empower our youth and promote hope in recovery. Our mission is to bring about awareness of substance abuse in a positive way and to coordinate family-friendly events that will educate, empower and unite our families and our resources so we can battle this crisis together. I believe we do not have enough sources of positive unity or encouragement to stop the stigma and denial.  

His struggle with drugs

Chase did not have opioid-use disorder. I’m sure he may have experimented. I know he smoked pot, which I did not condone. He had friends who were using opioid-related substances, two of whom have since died of overdoses, and four of whom I know today are in recovery. In most cases, they have said he always refused these types of drugs when hanging out. But one early morning in February 2018, my son made a horrible mistake, ultimately the wrong choice, and he should have known better. 

You see, I am the mom who believed “not my child” until it happened. My beloved young son was found unresponsive at a friend’s house and died from a drug overdose that I would later learn was the result of fentanyl intoxication. The toxicology report showed fentanyl and Xanax. My son and I discussed the use of drugs over the course of his life, and he knew better. Chase was not on any prescription medications, and we never talked about prescription drugs. I had never even heard of fentanyl until it became the cause of his death. Chase was extremely healthy. So why would he do this? I know my son, but did he know about fentanyl? Did he know about tolerance levels? I’m sure if he did, he may not have made the choice to use something that would kill him. He may have thought twice. We will never know.

My message to you

Do you know what fentanyl is? Please do not experiment with any drugs!