‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Mom carries on fentanyl fight

Trafficking the lethal drug fentanyl isn’t a criminal act in South Carolina. But Aiken mom Crystal Kraft wants to change that.
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 3:51 PM EST
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Even though fentanyl is blamed for more than half of South Carolina’s overdose deaths, trafficking the lethal drug isn’t a criminal act.

Aiken mom Crystal Kraft wants to change that.

It’s something she’s doing in memory of her son Clifton, someone she lost three years ago to a mix of methamphetamine and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s far stronger than heroin.

“He was he was always smiling, always always upbeat, always trying to make you laugh,” she said.

Like many, started using opioids after getting them through a legitimate prescription.

“The dentist gave him at least three prescriptions – two different forms of hydrocodone – and he got addicted, which at the time we didn’t know he was addicted,” she said.

“It was actually very little meth. It was almost all fentanyl. But that’s not what he asked for, obviously, because he didn’t want to die.”

She’s carrying on the fight to help other families avoid these tragedies.

“He didn’t deserve to die. He deserved to get help and fentanyl has just completely changed the game,” said Craft.

She feels the need to do something.

“If I don’t tell my story, then people won’t know,” she said.

“It’s heartbreaking because I feel like I failed my duty as a mom because I feel like I didn’t do as much as I should have.”

She’s doing something now, though.

A few weeks ago, South Carolina legislative leaders made it a top priority to pass legislation cracking down on fentanyl.

That’s in large part thanks to Kraft, who teamed up with Rep. Bill Taylor to make it happen.

“Without these laws, without people standing up to these dealers ... it’s going to keep happening,” Kraft said.


  • As of last week, both Senate bills on fentanyl passed in that chamber and moved on to the House, where they were referred to a subcommittee.
  • The House fentanyl trafficking bill has passed and was sent to the Senate, read for the first time, and sent to a judiciary panel.
  • The House fentanyl-induced homicide bill has not moved out of committee and has not moved on to a subcommittee yet.

Kraft has been protesting outside government buildings in Columbia for years now, and even talking in front of lawmakers at the State House.

Kraft wants to make it clear that she will not stop fighting to end fentanyl-related deaths – a tragedy that could happen to any family.

“It doesn’t know any boundaries,” she said. “There’s no social lines it doesn’t cross. Fentanyl will reach everybody, every corner of the Earth – everybody. It doesn’t matter.”

The fentanyl legislation in the South Carolina General Assembly could help change that.

“There are no consequences. You get arrested. The bonds are low, if any. You’re out, you’re out, back on the street doing the same thing. You get a slap on the wrist, you make a plea deal, and then nothing,” she said.

With overdose numbers on the rise, she says everyone will feel the impact.

“There’s nothing. There’s no justice.”