‘She had a beautiful soul’
(Editor’s note: This is the fifth story in a series of articles about the fentanyl crisis that has killed thousands of people in Oklahoma and across the nation.)
By John Dobberstein, Editor
When Meagan Tyre was 16, a star softball player at Union High School, all it took was a series of sports injuries to change the trajectory of her life.
Tyre was a softball pitcher and fractured her back in 3 facet joints from the hard work of pitching. She suffered a broken finger and numerous other injuries. Rather than opting for surgery, her doctor placed her on a regiment of opiates and rather than steering her to other options.
That is where Meagan’s addiction history began. The struggle would last on and off for nearly a decade. “She was a tough girl and gave it everything she had. Three hundred and sixty five days a year she practiced or played to be the best should could,” Michelle said.
After playing in high school and in top-level club teams that traveled to tournaments, Meagan played collegiate softball at Carl Albert State College. Playing college ball was her dream and she played through the pain.
When Meagan came home from college, however, the roller-coaster ride of addiction, rehabilitation and relapse began again. And it cost Meagan her life.
“Meagan was a beautiful person. She had a beautiful soul. She was always trying to help people. She’d give them the last penny she had to help them,” said her mother Michelle Shannon, who lost her only child. “She loved doing volunteer work with the church, and with dog rescues. And she loved her family.
“She had the most contagious laugh, that's one of the things I miss the most is hearing her laugh.”
Turning it around
There were periods in her young adult life where Meagan appeared to be winning her battle against addiction and depression.
“She had really turned things around, had her own apartment, had a good job and going to church, living a good life,” Michelle said. “She was going to do a church internship, and so we offered to let her move back home to save money and pay some bills.”
A few months after moving home, Michelle said, life began turning sideways for her daughter.
“You could always tell when you've been through it for so long, if somebody comes back in your life and, you know, you can see them going down a wrong road again,” Michelle said. “We were trying to work through it and she was seeing her therapist and everything.”
At some point, said her mother, Meagan got involved with someone who had turned her on to heroin, since opioid pills were getting much harder to obtain. Michelle said she and her daughter argued about a young woman Meagan started hanging out with that Michelle didn’t feel was a good influence.
The day Meagan passed was like many other Sundays. She professed plans to go to church and head to work afterwards. Her father had already left for church and Michelle left for the gym.
When Michelle returned home, she found Meagan collapsed in her bed, unconscious and barely alive. Michelle called 9-1-1, started CPR and paramedics got Meagan to a hospital. None of the treatments doctors tried to save her were effective and she was declared brain dead.
Pulled Back In
On the day Michelle found her daughter unconscious, she said, police had evidence in her phone that confirmed that Meagan had been going through a relapse.
She was getting sick from opiate withdrawal and had begged a friend, who Michelle said was also a drug dealer, to give her something. Meagan thought she was buying heroine — but police discovered it was 100% fentanyl.
“The evidence shows she went and met a guy and within a 10-minute time span, she bought the drugs, came back home, walked back in the house and that’s when she collapsed in bed. And that’s where I found her,” Michelle recalls.
A Tulsa man who sold the fentanyl to Meagan, John F. Bevins Jr., was arrested on drug charges and was sentenced to 60 years in prison after a jury trial in Tulsa.
In her victim impact statement to the court in 2021 during Bevins’ sentencing, Michelle said she would never forget finding her daughter unconscious or spending 3 days sitting next to her hospital bed while she was in a coma. Then came 30 court dates, each a painful reminder of losing her daughter. She asked for a life prison sentence.
“The worst thing as a parent you can ever do is to have to make funeral arrangements and be forced to bury your child. It’s the greatest pain ever and no parent should ever experience this,” Michelle told the judge.
“I will never be able to see my child fall in love and get married. I will never hear the word ‘Mama’ ever again. There are no more birthdays for Meagan to celebrate. I will never celebrate another Mother’s Day.
‘Don’t be that parent’
Michelle said Meagan tried to hide her addiction for many years and she and her late husband, “didn’t have a clue that it was going on” until their daughter returned him from college and her struggles escalated.
“She never wanted to disappoint us, being her parents,” Michelle lamented. “When you’re battling addiction, it’s not the same person that you’re dealing with.
“She was a beautiful girl, a beautiful person inside and out. She tried to suffer through the pain and find things that would help. She had depression, so that was part of it too. She never really liked the person looking back at her in the mirror.”
Michelle added, “I wish when this happened to me that I had understood addiction more. I wish I had understood mental health issues more. I wish I had understood what fentanyl was and what Narcan was.
“One of the things I preach now is, ‘Don’t be that parent that says it’ll never happen to my child.’ Because I was that parent and I wish I had been more understanding and listened more and educated myself about how bad addiction really was, and how dangerous the drugs were.
“I didn’t have a clue what fentanyl was back then. If I had known anything about fentanyl and known that Narcan could have helped, I would have definitely had that in my house. And that's something that I preach to anybody now that will listen.”