Would-be firefighter dies from heroin

Alex Buczynski died Feb. 10 from a heroin overdose. He was 22. (Courtesy: Buczynski family)
Alex Buczynski died Feb. 10 from a heroin overdose. He was 22. (Courtesy: Buczynski family)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Alex Buczynski loved baseball, the Oregon Ducks and fishing with his family. He spent a summer as a Wildland firefighter and wanted to be a paramedic and firefighter.

But the 22-year-old West Salem resident died February 10 from a heroin overdose. For years he battled drug addiction, a problem he hid from his family.

“Every time I hurt I just tell myself that’s not what he would want. And he was such a good person,” his girlfriend Rachel Demyan said. “He was the guy when he found out that someone was moving would go help them.”

Demyan believes his off-and-on heroin habit started while he was in West Salem High School, the same school where another graduate had a heroin OD in 2012.

“Unfortunately in this West Salem High School class there’s so many of them that are dealing with this problem,” she told KOIN 6 News.

The family is very pleased with Salem police and said they’ve helped in this investigation immensely. They added the Salem police have cooperated with the District attorney’s office in the investigation but ultimately charges filed will only be possession and delivery in connection with Alex’s death.

“My brother’s consequence: he died,” Jason Buczynski said. “There has to be a consequence for the dealers that are selling this.”

The Buczynski family is angry with District Attorney Walter Beglau’s office. When he called the office, he said he spoke with a woman. “She goes, ‘Your brother made his choices,’ and I about lost it.”

But the Buczynskis said heroin is a systemic problem that’s hitting West Salem and the high school very hard, and they want stiffer penalties for those involved.

Marion County DA spokesperson Gene Kunkle told KOIN 6 News that under Oregon law there is no statute allowing the state to pursue charges in cases of an overdose aside from delivery.

Kunkle said the US Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case and looking into whether charges can be filed under a stiffer Anti-Drug Act known as the Len Bias Act, which was passed in 1988.

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