• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 33s

Episode 95: Blindsided by Heroin

By Rhonda McBride 11:42 AM February 20, 2017


The Southwest Alaska community of Quinhagak would seem to be the last place on earth you’d find heroin.

The Yup’ik village of roughly 700 people still subsists on wild foods – caribou and moose from the Kilbuck Mountains and salmon from the Arolik and Kanektok Rivers. But last August, there were four heroin overdoses in one day. One young woman, Jamie Roberts, did not survive.

This week on Frontiers, the community of Quinhagak speaks out and shares what it has learned in hopes of saving lives.

Some of this week’s highlights:

  • Quinhagak Overdoses: A look back at a tragic day in Quinhagak. What the investigation revealed about mixture of heroin and fentanyl, never seen before in Alaska, that killed Jamie Roberts and how her family believes it was the first time she had ever tried the drug. We also hear from a man who overdosed on heroin the same day as Roberts. He nearly died and now wants to make the most of his second chance.
  • Quinhagak Fights Back: Tribal and city council leaders have advice for other rural communities on how to deal with drug dealers and users.
  • A Mother Remembers: Lisa Sauder is our featured guest this week. As head of Bean’s Café, she is well known in Anchorage for her efforts to feed the hungry. What people may not know is that Sauder lost her son last year to his longtime battle with opioids and heroin.
  • Beacon of Hope: KTVA’s Sierra Starks and photojournalist Emily Landeen bring us the story of Jennifer Waller, a recovering drug user, who is building a home to help other women find freedom from addiction.

So many painful stories were shared this week, but the big surprise is how fast heroin has invaded some of Alaska’s most isolated communities.

In Quinhagak, the grief and loss has been expressed in some profound ways. We did not have time to include several photos (below) into our show, taken of the clouds above the Roberts’ home on the day of Jamie’s death.

First, an angel appears out of storm clouds, then seems to walk to a rainbow, and then turns into a dove.

Whatever you see in the clouds, there is no doubt the community is still struggles to cope.


Latest Stories

  • News

    Petition circling to stop Mat-Su school district from outsourcing custodial, cafeteria positions

    by Sierra Starks on Mar 27, 21:00

    Faced with a $10 million budget deficit, cuts sometimes have to be made beyond the classroom, says Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District (MSBSD) assistant superintendent Luke Fulp. As a “viable option to help reduce ongoing expenses and financial obligations,” the district is looking to outsource its custodian and nutrition service workers. In February, the MSBSD voted 4 to 3 […]

  • News

    Be ready: Expert warns to be prepared before a tsunami strikes

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 27, 20:08

    It’s Tsunami Preparedness Week, a reminder to be ready in case a natural disaster like the 1964 earthquake and tsunamis happens again. Paul Whitmore, the director of the National Tsunami Warning Center, says the week’s events include a test of the tsunami warning system. He said in 1964, most of the victims had no warning of […]

  • Politics

    Lawmaker introduces tax on opioid prescriptions

    by Liz Raines on Mar 27, 19:45

    Last month, Gov. Bill Walker declared Alaska’s opioid epidemic a disaster. Now, a member of the Alaska House is proposing a tax on prescription drugs to help remedy the issue. Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins’ House Bill 196 raises revenue directed toward treatment and rehabilitation programs for opioid abuse. At $.01 per morphine milligram, Kreiss-Tomkins says the goal isn’t […]

  • Politics

    Senate calls for 5% education cut, balks at putting it in budget bill for public critique

    by Liz Raines on Mar 27, 19:45

    Public testimony on the Alaska Senate’s version of the state budget is closed, but Alaskans still haven’t seen cuts made to one of the biggest pieces — education. For weeks, the Republican majority has called for a 5-percent cut to the state’s four largest departments: Health and Social Services, Transportation, the University of Alaska, and […]

  • News

    Father and son look back at 1964 earthquake

    by Melissa Frey on Mar 27, 19:21

    It’s been 53 years since an earthquake changed the landscape of downtown Anchorage. It was recent enough to remember, but long enough ago to learn some important lessons along the way. In the last five decades, the scientific and engineering community has used what it’s learned from the ’64 quake to make buildings stronger and safer. The ground […]

  • Lifestyle

    Bureau of Land Management announces digital Alaska maps for outdoor excursions

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 27, 18:51

    The Bureau of Land Management is making it easier to take maps into the backcountry. The agency launched a series of digital maps that can be downloaded to a smart phone or tablet through the Avenza Maps app. The first eight maps range from the Steese Conservation Area to the Unalakleet National Wild River. “There’s also […]

  • Politics

    Meet the candidates: District 3 – Seat E – West Anchorage

    by Daniella Rivera on Mar 27, 16:31

    KTVA invited every registered candidate running in the upcoming Anchorage municipal election to an on-camera interview at our studios to discuss the following topics: Balancing the budget Public safety Introducing new taxes Addressing homelessness in Anchorage Plans for the future We also asked each candidate to submit a 300-word biography, each of which has been […]

  • News

    Mat-Su school board president says superintendent’s resignation was for personal reasons

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 27, 16:23

    Last updated at 8:45 p.m. on Monday, March 27 The school board held an emergency meeting Monday evening to discuss the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District (MSBSD) superintendent’s “pending immediate resignation.” Superintendent Gene Stone’s resignation was not initially announced by the district, but was outlined in a resolution considered at the emergency meeting. Stone’s resignation comes only a […]