News10NBC Investigates: Poison pills — one pill leads to overdose of local teen

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Paige Gibbons loved life.

“She was just a caring and kind soul,” her father David says, “Off the charts smart as far as academics.” 

During her senior year at Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women, Paige worked at a tennis club, taught children how to swim as a lifeguard, and earned her EMT certification. Last fall, she went off to college at Hobart and William Smith.

“She was studying to do pre-med, so the goal was to one day work somewhere in the medical field,” David Gibbons tells News10NBC.  

Paige came home to Pittsford for a visit the weekend before Thanksgiving and on Saturday night, she decided to hang out at a friend’s house in Penfield with two other young women. She texted her parents when she arrived.

“They were going to get some dinner and they were gonna do some TikTok videos, and we have videos of her dancing and having a fun time. Parents were home, so Kate and I were happy she was going to have some fun that night,” David says. 

That was the last David and his wife Kate heard from their daughter. The next day, as they were sitting down to watch a Bills game.

“A knock came on the door and Kate went to the door,” David recalls. “There was two police officers there, and they just told us the most horrific news ever — that Paige had overdosed on drugs. And it was just heart-wrenching and shocking, because Paige wasn’t really a drug user.”

The days that followed were a blur but the Gibbons family learned that Paige and another friend took one pill each that night.

“We found out after that she thought she was going to take a Percocet, and turns out it was 100% fentanyl,” David says. 

Paige went to sleep and never woke up.

“The other girl was fighting for her life for a few weeks in a hospital, barely made it, luckily she survived.”

The Gibbons family is, of course, devastated. Until now, they’ve been very private about what happened to Paige. But their younger daughter Brooke has pushed them to open up, in the hope that their story can help other families.

“Brooke really gave myself and Kate courage to not hide, this is going on everywhere and it’s a silent epidemic,” David says.

The pills were purchased the same night the girls took them.

“The crazy part is, this was being actively sold on Instagram,” David says. “Snapchat, Instagram, word of mouth; If you’re seeking it out, it’s easy to find. But the challenge is, you don’t know what you’re finding.”

For parents and students who think fentanyl is only a risk to those who use heroin or other illegal street drugs, Paige’s death is proof that is not true.

“It’s everywhere and if you don’t know where something is coming from, you never want to be sitting where I am right now, talking about the worst day of our lives,” David says.

The Gibbonses will be part of a panel discussion happening Wednesday evening at Nazareth University. “Our Kids Are Not Alright So, Now What? A Path Forward” is put on in conjunction with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. 

“Even though Paige died at age 19, she did so much in such a short period of time, and the thing that makes me sad is I think she would have done so much more,“ David says. “But, in the short time that she was on this earth, she gave back. And so it has reinvigorated myself, Kate, and Brooke to say, ‘Where can we help out in the community?'”