Friends and family of 13-year-old Daniella Young gathered Thursday night at a Summerlin park to honor her memory and raise awareness about the deadly drug that killed her.
About 30 people met at picnic tables at Tree Top Park as the sun set. Most wore Daniella Young’s favorite color: red.
“She used to spend a lot of time here at the park after school, before school sometimes; also just coming to hang out with her friends,” Daniella’s mom Sabrina Young said. “This was a safe place for her. She loved it here.”
On Oct. 13, 2021, Daniella’s dad Jason Young found his daughter in her room slumped over her nightstand next to pressed pills that police said were laced with fentanyl.
‘It feels fresh’
Daniella died from fentanyl toxicity and recent cocaine and meth use, according to the Clark County coroner’s office.
“We have closure only in that the person she bought it from is in prison, but it feels fresh,” Jason Young said. “I feel like I just found her yesterday morning.”
Marcas Crowley, 32, met Daniella over Snapchat in September 2021 and over the next month, according to police, Crowley sold drugs to Daniella in exchange for sex. She sent indecent photos and videos of herself to Crowley over Snapchat in exchange for drugs.
“Social media is a huge part of this as it’s where many of these kids are finding the dealers,” Jason Young said. “Talking specifically about Snapchat, Instagram, etc.”
Police determined that Crowley met with Daniella the night before her death at Tree Top Park, which is a half-mile from Daniella’s father’s house.
In February, Crowley pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter with a deadly weapon and sexually motivated coercion after the Clark County district attorney’s office charged Crowley with second-degree murder despite a grand jury not indicting Crowley on a murder charge.
Crowley was sentenced in April to seven to 20 years in prison.
‘We can’t bury our head in the sand’
Sabrina Young said that many of her daughter’s friends weren’t able to attend her funeral last year because it was on a school day and that parents of Daniella’s friends reached out to her recently to ask about putting together an anniversary event.
Jamie Gibo was one of those parents. Her daughter Paige had been friends with Daniella since they were in third grade.
“Her life was cut short and it’s tragic,” Gibo said of Daniella. “She should be celebrating homecoming and going to her first dance and she’s not able to.”
Gibo said the hope is to make Thursday’s event an annual event that celebrates Daniella and raises awareness about the dangers of fentanyl and other drugs.
“We can’t bury our head in the sand and pretend like it’s not happening,” Gibo said. “We just can’t.”
Parents and kids wrote messages about how they were feeling on paper bags that were then filled with small flameless candles. The bags were placed on the playground equipment at the park.
Daniella’s friends then wrote letters to lawmakers asking for more education in schools about the dangers of fentanyl and other drugs. Gibo said she would be mailing the letters.
Kaylee Ludtke was a year ahead of Daniella. Ludtke and her sister were close friends with Daniella.
“She was happy. I would walk past her in the halls and she would just smile at me and we would just kind of say hi,” Ludtke said. “She was super social and just a happy person.”
Ludtke wants more education in schools about the dangers of opioids and more information about how kids can get help if they are using drugs. She said she did not know until recently that Narcan, a device that delivers the opioid-overdose antidote naloxone, was available at her school. She said schools should be more outspoken to students about the availability of the life-saving antidote on campuses.
‘She was our miracle’
Daniella’s parents described her as beautiful, brilliant, wise beyond her years and loving.
She was Jason and Sabrina Young’s only child. Daniella was born with the help of an egg donor and surrogate after Sabrina Young had suffered multiple miscarriages.
“She was our miracle and she got taken, murdered by fentanyl,” Sabrina Young said.