Local News

Cary father turns son's drug addiction into effort to spare other teens from same fate

Posted November 28, 2017 6:46 p.m. EST

— A Cary father has turned his pain into healing by writing a book and producing a documentary about his son's descent into addiction – a spiral that ended his son's life but may end up saving someone else's.

Chase Morgan Rodgers, 20, was killed on May 29, 2014, when the car he was riding in went off eastbound Interstate 40 and crashed into some trees near the Wade Avenue exit. Seven months later, the driver of the car, who was charged with being impaired, took her own life by setting her apartment on fire.

"I think there are a lot of parents that are probably under the impression that it won't happen to them or it can't happen to them or their family," Darryl Rodgers said Tuesday.

Darryl Rodgers said he was in denial when Raleigh police first told him of his son's death.

Chase Rodgers was an Eagle Scout, a good student and a college athlete. But he also was grappling with addiction and substance abuse – he had been through rehab once before and planned to return, his father said. Authorities said he was impaired the day of the crash.

"He came to me one day and said, 'Dad, I know I'm hanging around with a bad crowd again,'" Darryl Rodgers said.

Part catharsis and part desire to prevent other tragedies, the elder Rodgers has produced "Deadly Influences," a 23-minute film about his son's life and death to try and help other young people make better choices.

"I want to add some meaning to Chase's life. I don't want his death to have been in vain," he said. "This is an opportunity for me to help other people by telling his story."

In the film, his friends and family recall how Chase Rodgers' drug and alcohol use changed his personality and relationships. His father has shown it at high schools and churches, followed by a conversation, and he plans to do the same at 7 p.m. next Monday at Cary Theater, at 122 E. Chatham St. Tickets are $5.

"It's a message of love," said Darryl Rodgers, who also wrote "A Life Half Lived: A True Story of Love, Addiction, Tragedy, and Hope" about his son's life and death.