Sam’s watch

Her hope is that if more teenagers hear about Sam they’ll hesitate if someone suggests they take a drug.

In that moment, she wants them to remember who Sam was — a quiet Center Grove High School sophomore who loved basketball and was taking honors classes to prepare for college.

He also was a teenager who made a fatal mistake in May when he took the synthetic drug 251 NBOMe, known as N-Bomb.

If more teenagers knew that story, if they knew that N-Bomb and other synthetic drugs have chemicals that could kill

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them, they might make a different choice, Motsay said.

“It’s part of why I keep going every day, is to know there’s the opportunity to save somebody else like Sam,” she said.

Motsay also has been meeting with State Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, who’s sponsoring a bill in this year’s legislative session that he hopes will increase the penalty for anyone who is caught with or is dealing a synthetic drug. If the bill becomes law, anyone caught with synthetic drugs could face the same penalties as someone caught with drugs already defined as illegal. For example, someone possessing a synthetic hallucinogen would face the same penalty as someone caught with LSD, Merritt said.

“We’re saying to those that might want to use these drugs or deal these drugs that you’re going to be prosecuted the same way as if you were using the actual drug it imitates or looks like,” Merritt said.

Merritt reached out to Motsay shortly after Sam’s death, and the pair started speaking to parents and high school and college students about the dangers of synthetic drugs.

One of those presentations included a forum in Johnson County in August after school was back in session. Little was known about N-Bomb when Sam died; and Motsay, Merritt and local police departments wanted students and parents to know how dangerous synthetic drugs could be.

Shortly after, Motsay rented office space in Center Grove, near State Road 135 and Smith Valley Road. She has a full-time job working for a health care organization and works from home; but after Sam’s death, it was difficult spending a lot of time at the house.

The office gave Motsay a place to clear her head, and it quickly evolved into the headquarters for Sam’s Watch, a group dedicated to spreading the word about the dangers of synthetic drugs.

Motsay does a few hours of work for the nonprofit at the end of each day. Right now, her focus is on signing Indiana schools up for National Drug Facts Week at the end of January. The goal of the week is to educate teens about drugs. So far, 35 schools have pledged to participate, she said.

To encourage schools to sign up, Sam’s Watch is sponsoring drawings and contests for prizes, including $1,000, which can be used to fund student activities, and three iPad minis. The cash and iPads were donated by local businesses and Motsay’s friends and family.

Working with Sam’s Watch is cathartic, Motsay said, but she’s learning how to deal with the pain of losing a child. She knew the holidays last month would be difficult, but the hurt was worse than she expected.

“Sometimes you don’t realize how low you can really feel,”

she said.

Motsay knows that she’ll have to keep learning how to cope with that pain. So she doesn’t have long-term goals for Sam’s Watch yet. She said those goals will evolve as she continues to heal.

“You end up in a place you never expected,” she said. “So it’s hard to think about the future.”

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State Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, is sponsoring a bill that would toughen the penalties for possessing or dealing synthetic drugs.

If the bill is enacted, someone caught with a synthetic drug would face the same penalty as someone caught with the actual drug. That means someone caught with a synthetic hallucinogen, such as N-Bomb, would face the same penalties as someone caught with LSD.