“In many ways, Hannah Gadd doesn’t want to remember the pain and heartache that Sept. 29, 2013, brought to her family.
Hannah, who is now a senior at Louisville Male High School, was at home with her parents when she found out that her 32-year-old uncle, Jonathan Mattingly, was found dead in his Fern Creek apartment.
“I lost my uncle to a heroin overdose,” the 18-year-old told WDRB. “We didn’t know he was using heroin, I had never heard the word heroin until his autopsy report.”
“When I saw the effects this passing did to my family, it was horrific and heart-wrenching,” she says. “No other family should have to deal with what we went through.”
Four months after her uncle’s death, Hannah decided she wasn’t going to let her family’s experience be in vain.
She began working with her mom, Julie Mattingly Gadd, to produce a documentary called Heroin: Drug of Sorrow.
The video, shot by professional photographer Michael Clevenger, features interviews Hannah conducted with Kentucky Chief Medical Examiner Tracey Corey, Louisville EMS Major Jenny Cravens and current drug users. She also shares shares the stories of five families changed by heroin.
One of those families is that of Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell, whose son Matt O’Connell, died of a heroin overdose in May 2014.
“He was great, he had a lot of friends…a great personality,” O’Connell says in the video. “It is a big dark black hole that has not been replaced.”
Heroin: Drug of Sorrow began as a community service project Hannah could submit for the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in girl scouting. In the project, she had to find a problem in the community and come up with a solution.”