Emmett and William Scannell Credit: Courtesy William Scannell

Emmett Scannell was on a full academic scholarship at Worcester State University in Massachusetts. He was a member of the National Honor Society and a straight-A student. And on April 20, heroin took the promising 20-year-old’s life.

“Emmett had been in recovery and sober in Alcoholics Anonymous for two years when he went off to college in late August 2014,” his father, William Scannell, wrote in a powerful obituary posted on the Chapman, Cole & Gleason funeral home website. “Within six weeks, heroin came into his and our lives, stole him from us and Substance Use Disorder killed him in only 18 months.”

He continued: “Emmett was a caring, funny, smart, young man with the potential for greatness. He loved his brother and sister, biking and snowmobiling and had a smile and charm that could light up a room, but it won't ever again because he had and died from Substance Use Disorder.” 

The grieving Massachusetts-based lawyer also took to Facebook to make a point that opiates do not discriminate. In an April 24 post, Scannell described his son as an athlete, scholar, writer, inventor and musician. “When you look at this picture, do you see a ‘junkie’??? Do you see a desperate young man that is addicted to heroin???? Do you see someone that is so sad or depressed or who has become a prisoner of his own life?” Scannell wrote about a photo of his beaming, clean-cut boy. “This young man just passed four days ago from an overdose and he was only 20 years old. He lived amongst us, had parents who loved him unconditionally, and he had his whole life ahead of him!!!”

According to the Worcester Telegram, the college sophomore overdosed in his car in a supermarket parking lot. His girlfriend, Suzie Pignatiello, reportedly performed CPR on him and took him to the hospital, where he died. 

“The substance abuse disorder crisis and heroin epidemic is killing kids almost every day here,” Scannell told ABC News. “Parents here are afraid to speak out. … They say their 22-year-old daughter or son died ‘unexpectedly.’ ”

According to ABC News, opioid-related overdoses in Massachusetts have jumped to 1,173 in 2014, from 526 in 2010.

Want stories like these delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter!