New York Parents Share Story of Daughter Who Died on Way to Drug Rehab to Help Others

October 19, 2018 Updated: October 19, 2018

Two New York parents have shared the story of their daughter, a young mother herself, to try and help others.

Saige Earley died at age 23 on Sept. 16 after using heroin.

She was in a bathroom at Syracuse Hancock International Airport when she used for the last time. Family members said she wanted to stop using the addictive, potent drug and had arranged to get treatment at a rehab facility in California.

But just before boarding the flight, she died from using heroin, with the boarding pass in her hand.

Earley’s parents, Jason Earley and Ellen Ayer Earley, said they shared their daughter’s story in the hopes that it will help others, including youth struggling with drug addiction and their parents.


In the long obituary, the parents wrote that Saige was a gifted student and artist with a lot of friends who loved to write, draw, dance, and do other creative endeavors.

“This past Christmas while in treatment, she still took time to decorate by making snowflakes from paper and sparkles for her halfway house,” they wrote. They also noted that she had recently been in treatment in Florida, and thanked the counselors and friends at the rehab facilities there.

“While she loved to walk, she absolutely needed to run, to escape for just a moment every now and again. Whether she escaped in her insatiable appetite for books, dancing till exhausted, headphones blaring music, walks upon walks, or the drugs that cut her life so terribly short, she simply needed to run,” the obituary continued.

“But she always wanted to return, to make us laugh, to love her baby, to show us this cruel yet fascinating world through her eyes. She ran again last weekend and within 48 hours she was ready to return to us. On Sunday she was in the airport, on her way back to treatment, she never made her flight. She ran just a little too far this time. She left a tribe that loved her and that tribe will keep her memory and spirit alive as we care for her son.”

Saige left behind a 2-year-old son among other family members.

Epoch Times Photo
A discarded syringe sits in the dirt with other debris under a highway overpass where drug users are known to congregate in Everett, Wash., on Feb. 16, 2017. (Elaine Thompson/AP Photo)

Struggle With Addiction

Jason and Ellen Earley, who are divorced, told that they struggled to get Saige help as she struggled with mental health, attempted suicide, and became addicted to heroin.

Ellen Earley said that becoming a mother focused Saige until she took a trip to the dentist in early 2017. After having surgery there, she was prescribed prescription painkillers.

Her parents believe the painkillers led to more, including heroin. She started dating a man who was addicted to heroin and disappeared from July to October that year.

Ellen Earley’s advice to parents of addicts includes changing their expectations.

“Your expectations change to just being grateful that she spent a day sober. Sometimes our expectations rob us of enjoying them and their company,” she said. “I included Saige in my life at every opportunity. I invited even when I knew she wouldn’t come. And I am glad I did. That is one regret I won’t have.”


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