BLANCHESTER — Erin Payne’s family is trying to raise money for the costs of her cremation and related expenses.
Payne died recently from an overdose of heroin. Police are investigating a recent spike in overdoses, which killed two people, including Payne, in a week. Even though Payne was flown by CareFlight to Miami Valley Hospital, her brain damage was too extensive, according to Tammy McMullen, Payne’s aunt. She died almost four hours after waking her father, who called 911.
“We have found that during this process of trying to raise money for her funeral that some people won’t donate because she was a heroin addict,” said McMullen in a written statement. “We understand the sentiment that, yes, Erin chose to use the drug that killed her, but it’s never just that simple. She was a person before and during her drug use.”
McMullen said Payne was a sister, a daughter, and a mother to a daughter, two sons and two stepdaughters. Payne, a former nurse, went to prison and came out “the Erin we all knew and loved before the heroin.”
McMullen said Payne got a job and had just enrolled at Southern State Community College, where she majored in chemical dependency counseling with the goal of helping others who were in situations like hers.
“Even through her addiction, she was our Erin, a person, not just an addict,” McMullen said. “We don’t know what happened to trigger her relapse. We don’t know why she wanted to get high, why she went looking for it. Of course we keep asking ourselves … Is there something, anything, that would have changed what happened?’”
McMullen said there will be a cookout at the J. W. Denver Williams Jr. Memorial Park in Wilmington today, Friday, Sept. 11, from noon to 9 p.m. Hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, soft drinks and baked goods will be available. McMullen said all of the proceeds will go to Payne’s mother, Tara Cornett-Hurt.
Cornett-Hurt, McMullen said, had to bury her son, David “DJ” Payne, two years ago. She said he, too, was an addict and was in jail when he had to be transported to the hospital.
“Neither of her children had insurance,” McMullen wrote on Tuesday. “She begged and borrowed enough to bury her son, but there are no options left for her daughter. That is why we are reaching out to the community. … If we can raise enough money, she will buy a double headstone for both of them (David Payne doesn’t have one yet). She is laying them to rest side by side.”
Those who wish to donate can give money to the Erin Payne Memorial Fund at Wright-Patt Credit Union or online at www.gofund.me/mq34auys. There are also jars for donations at the following businesses: Blanchester — Auto Zone KOI Auto Parts, Advance Auto Parts, United Dairy Farmers,Tom’s Express Mart, Marathon, BDK, Save-A-Lot, Impact Salon, Ideal Fingertip Salon, Chubby’s Pizza, and Domino’s Pizza; and in Lynchburg at Lynchburg General Store and at 1st Stop.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 9370382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.