LI Mother's Agony After Losing Son To Fentanyl: 'He Was Wonderful'

MONTAUK, NY — A mother whose heart was forever broken after losing her son is hoping to have a bench and tree placed in his beautiful memory at the place where he took his last breath.

Tova Keblish lost her son Gavin, 23, in 2016; his body was found in Montauk that August.

Keblish said her son died after taking what he believed to be a painkiller that he’d bought online to help with ongoing discomfort he’d had after leg surgery — but it was, instead, deadly fentanyl.

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According to AP News, “online drug kingpin” Aaron Shamo, 30, of Salt Lake City, was convicted in federal court in 2019 of “shipping hundreds of thousands of fake prescription drugs all over the country, helping fuel the nation’s opioid epidemic.” The case, AP News said, illustrated how people could buy fentanyl from China then ship pills across the United States through the mail.

The years since have not quieted the agony that rages in Keblish’s mother’s heart over the loss of her only child.

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Now, she has been raising funds for “Gavin’s Bench,” as well as a tree, that she’d like to see placed outside Rough Riders Landing on Fort Pond Rd. in Montauk ,where her son died. If that location is not available, she said she’s hoping a nearby restaurant or business might allow her to site the tree and the bench — made of plastic, and in the color purple, to honor her son’s ribbon — on property close to where his life ended.

“This location is important to me, I feel this is my place of peace to talk to him,” Keblish said. “I am desperately wanting to complete this soon.”

Keblish, who lives with her husband in Eastport, opened a shop, “Gavin’s Treasures,” on Main St. in Center Moriches.

“I opened it in memory of him,” she said. “It’s just for me to be able to say his name. It’s a beautiful distraction for me. It keeps me vertical.”

Every month, Keblish fundraises for the bench and tree, organizing raffles to garner funding.

She’s eager to see the space created, a place where she can take the train and then, go sit and be near the last spot her son was on this earth.

“This is something very personal for me,” Keblish said.

Her son, she said, “was just an amazing kid.” He loved dirt bikes and was involved in motor cross racing from the time he was 5 until he went to college. “He was wonderful, bigger than life.”

Her son graduated from that State University of New York at Albany and then, worked as a counselor at the Little Flower Children and Family Services of New York in Wading River.

His life was cut short, she said. And now, Keblish has made it her mission to warn other young people and parents of the scourge that’s sweeping the nation, with fentanyl stealing the lives of the future generation.

“I feel that this is definitely a kind of terrorist attack,” she said. “These are our kids.”

Keblish said she plans to go to schools and speak about her experience. “I need to talk to kids, straight,” she said. “We’ve got to get kids and parents to wake up. This is scary.”

Life without her son, Keblish said, is what she describes as “the new norm. It’s extremely painful. I’m not even able to go in his room yet.”

That’s why the tree and bench mean everything, she said. “I went to get on a train and be near that spot, the place where he took his last breath.”

Those who wish to donate can reach out to Keblish at Gavin’s Treasures by calling 631-500-9393.

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