Erik Irvin's family is trying to prevent what happened to them from happening to any other family.
Irvin was found dead last February in the bathroom of a Belleville gas station from a heroin overdose.
"The family has been totally shattered by what happened," said April Clepper, of St. Louis, a friend of the Irvin family and a member of the Stop the Heroin Movement.
Irvin's family in cooperation with the Stop the Heroin Movement is holding a heroin awareness rally on the one-year anniversary of Erik Irvin's death at 11 a.m. Saturday outside the St. Clair County Courthouse in downtown Belleville. Erik Irvin, 30, of Belleville was found dead in the bathroom of the MotoMart gas station, at 701 W. Main St.
Karen Irvin, Erik's mother who now lives in Grapevine, Texas, said it's a struggle to get through every day since her son's death.
"Every day we cry; every day we worry about other addicts; every day we hope that other parents and siblings don't get that knock on the door with officers telling them their loved one has passed away from heroin," she said. "I really wish there was a way another parent would not have to go through the hell we've been through."
Just a few hours before Erik Irvin's death, his wife Christal Irvin, 30, of Belleville survived a heroin overdose Feb. 8, 2012, at Bethany Place, 821 W. A St. Bethany Place is a nonprofit AIDS service organization that provides, among other services, an overdose prevention and needle-exchange program used mostly by intravenous drug users.
Christal Irvin is serving probation for unlawful possession of a controlled substance and is also on active probation for two counts of felony theft, court records state. She is required to undergo treatment for her drug addiction as part of her probation.
Christal Irvin said she is clean right now.
"It's been easier since he's passed," she said. "Before that I struggled."
Erik and Christal Irvin had three children together. Temporary guardianship of the children have been awarded to relatives, and Christal Irvin said she's working on "getting them all back."
Karen Irvin has guardianship of the couple's two daughters, 9 and 6 years old, and their young son, 4, is being cared for by Christal Irvin's mother.
Christal Irvin said as time passes, "it gets a little easier" for the kids.
"They ask questions here and there. They know what happened," she said. "They don't like to talk about it much."
Karen Irvin said the children often have bad dreams.
"Erik Irvin's children have suffered the worst," Clepper said. "It's just sad what happened to them."
Karen Irvin said their family is not alone. "There's a lot of other families who have this drug demon they are fighting for their loved one," she said.
Some progress is being made to stop drug dealers, according to Karen Irvin.
"The laws are being changed," she said. "The dealers are being jailed but very slowly."
Karen Irvin said she was pleased to find out that Willie D. Dover, 26, of Swansea -- who sold drugs to Christal Irvin -- was in prison. Dover was sentenced to four years in prison in September for drug induced infliction/bodily harm. He is serving out his sentence at Vienna Correctional Center.
"I feel we are lucky to have at least one dealer off the streets of Belleville," she said. "The drug warriors will not stop trying to get the dealers in jail and get the addicts help."
Clepper said she expects more than 200 people to attend the rally Saturday. This marks the fourth rally the Stop the Heroin Movement has held in conjunction with Erik Irvin's family.
"My deal with the rallies is to help other parents," Karen Irvin said. "I go to the rallies to let people know that I lost a child, and it can happen to you."
She advises people to not even try heroin once.
"That heroin, it demands your whole attention," Karen Irvin said. "If you use heroin, it don't take a piece of you. It takes all of you."
Clepper said the main point the movement wants to get across is "death is definitely imminent with heroin."
She said the goal of the all-volunteer Stop the Heroin Movement is straightforward -- to help heroin addicts get the treatment they need.
"We want to try to help people get clean who are still using," said Clepper, who is a recovering addict. She's been clean the last eight years.
"It is possible. You can get clean," Clepper said. "Death is not your only option in this."
Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or email@example.com. (*0*)