Hero Award Winner Speaks Out About Meth

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In the last picture taken of Justin Cherrier he stares blankly from his bowl of morning cereal, a hapless gaze the only insight to the pain of a life about to be cut short.

"You can hardly believe that your child is dead," says Cherrier,
"I cried probably every day for a year straight."

Justin's mother, Sue Cherrier says while the candid morning moment is the last photo she snapped of her son it's far from the most representative.

His personality changed so drastically from such a caring and loving kid involved in everything to someone who just wanted to lay and sleep and he was angry, very angry.

That change began somewhere around sophomore year when his mother says Justin went from being an avid outdoorsman and sports fan to being a disgruntled and withdrawn teen.

It also marked the start of Justin's long struggle with drug addiction, including methamphetamine.

"He'd just go to the basement and lay down and wouldn't talk and so that last week he was pretty depressed."

At just 20 years old depressed and facing possible jail time Justin came home one June afternoon in 2002, took his hunting gun and shot himself in his parents driveway.

"It's heart wrenching. It just tears you apart. It took a long time to heal."

Three years later while Sue Cherrier looks through her sons old yearbooks and junior high writing assignments, she reflects on how far she's come including telling others about the ravages of meth at conferences like this one held last year in Eau Claire.

"I think they need to hear the human side of it. That these boys and girls that are using drugs have mothers and fathers and they were our little babies who used to be wonderful children and why does this have to happen, why do they turn to that? "

For Sue it's a question she'll never have answered but one she hopes no other parent will ever have to ask.