A family’s anguish
Betty Peck said good night to her son Evan, Jr. on February 17. The 35 year-old was also getting prepared for bed. Around 2 a.m., Betty awoke and saw Evan, Jr.’s light still on. She quietly opened the door and found Evan, Jr. kneeling, as if in prayer, beside his bed. She whispered to her boy with no response. Betty slowly walked over to Evan, Jr. and touched him. His body was cold. She immediately called 911 and then tried to resuscitate her son.
The paramedics arrived and said, “It’s too late.”
At his home, Evan, Sr. was awake. Trying to get back to sleep, he ignored the first time the phone rang. When it the second time happened, he put the phone to his ear. It was Betty.
“He’s dead!” she screamed. “Our baby is dead!”
For most of his 35 years, Evan, Jr. fought drug addiction until it took his life on that cold February morning. In some ways, with the rollercoaster of drug abuse, healing, and relapse, the final destination for Evan, Jr. seemed almost inevitable.
Evan, Sr. and his daughter, Emelia, told their family’s story to people at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Kasson Sunday night.
The first sign of trouble came in 1992, when Evan, Jr. was just 12.
The Pecks were an average suburban family. They ate dinner each night as a family, had fun, spent time with neighbors enjoying cookouts and just time together. Nothing seemed amiss until that small crack in the family’s seemingly iron-clad life.
Evan, Sr. and his wife, Betty, had split up, but even that wasn’t something that caused major problems with everyone.
Evan Sr., who had always enjoyed coaching his son in youth baseball, called him about the upcoming season. This time, however, something wasn’t quite right.
“I told him I was going to be able to coach his team again,” Evan, Sr. said. “There was silence on the phone, then my son said, ‘I’m not going to play baseball. I’m just not interested in it anymore.”
“Evan was intelligent, happy, outgoing,” his father said. “He had lots of friends. He attracted people with his personality. He was bright, and just a great young man.”
“We had told our children about drugs, they were involved in D.A.R.E. so we never thought something of this nature would happen to our family.”
But it did.
As Evan, Jr.’s life moved forward, the happy young man became irritable, moody, like many teenagers trying to maneuver their lives. Evan, Jr., however, was using drugs and it was his little sister, Emelia, a year younger than Evan, Jr., who talked to their father first.
“Emelia called me and told me that Evan was hanging around with a group of guys and that her brother were smoking pot,” Evan, Sr. said. “Then I started hearing from his mother, with whom he lived with, that she was finding beer bottles and drugs in his room.”
Evan, Sr. knew he had to approach his son. Evan. Jr. gave a pretty typical response to his father’s inquiries.
“It’s no big deal Dad,” he said. “We’re just having some fun.”
“We think it’s a big deal,” Evan, Sr. told his son. “You’re going to have to leave your mother’s home and come live with me because you’re doing things that are wrong and being inappropriate.”