At 9.40pm on Saturday, 17-year-old Reece Smith messaged his mum and told her he loved her.
Not even 24 hours later, the “happy, fun-loving joker” was found dead in a Dundee multi – another victim of drugs.
Mum Samantha Craig, 36, had earlier gone past Elders Court, where an ambulance was parked outside. Little did she know that it had attended in a bid to save her son.
The ambulance had raced to the scene on Sunday afternoon but, sadly, nothing could be done to save Reece.
Samantha doesn’t yet know what he took and it will be 10 weeks before she gets the results of a toxicology report.
What she does know is that drugs were what, ultimately, took her son’s life.
Samantha was set to collect Reece’s best suit from the dry cleaner for him to wear when she graduates with a first-class honours degree from Dundee University next month, but instead he will be wearing it at his own funeral.
In an exclusive interview with the Tele, Samantha vowed that her son’s death would not be in vain.
Samantha, from Douglas, said: “This still feels very unreal. I can’t get my head around the fact that Reece is no longer here but I want to tell his story in a desperate bid to stop other young people taking drugs.
“It’s too late for Reece – he’s gone – but I don’t want his death to be in vain.”
Samantha, who is no stranger to drug use through her work in the needle-sharing unit at the Cairn centre in Dundee, was aware that Reece had dabbled in drugs last year and had “tried some out for himself”.
“I obviously spoke to him and warned him that I wouldn’t tolerate drug use,” she said.
“Since December last year everything had been great.
“Reece had been accepted to study electrical engineering at college and he was looking forward to learning to drive and going on holiday with his mates.
“Then last week he came home one day obviously under the influence of drugs. I decided to use tough love and I told him to leave.
“I told him I wouldn’t have him using drugs and I wouldn’t be seen to condone his use of them.”
Over the next few days Samantha and Reece kept in touch and he even went home for a bath, a meal, a cuddle and to collect fresh clothes.
She said: “He had got himself into a unit and I believed he was taking action and responsibility.”
Through social media platform Snapchat, Samantha discovered Reece had gone to Lochee on Saturday. She admitted to being concerned he was mixing with the wrong crowd.
“All day I followed where he went and on Saturday night I messaged him to tell him I loved him,” she said. “He messaged me back to say he was fine and that he loved me too.
“That was the last I heard from him. He disappeared from Snapchat at 10am on Sunday.”
Samantha added: “Reece was definitely not a regular user. He was a bright lad with a promising future.
“I don’t know how to come to terms with this. Reece was a bright, happy boy – a joker who made everyone laugh.
“He also had a brilliant sense of humour and a heart of gold. I’ve received thousands of messages of support which has been such a comfort. But this can’t keep on happening to our children.”
A spokesperson from Police Scotland said: “We attended Elders Court, Dundee about 3.15pm on Sunday May 19 in relation to the sudden death of a 17-year-old man. The death is being treated as unexplained.”
‘You don’t have to take drugs for years to die’
Samantha Craig has spent part of her life learning about drugs.
She studied for a degree in community learning development at Dundee University and her paper on Recovery from Heroin Addiction was entered for a national writing prize.
Samantha, pictured right, works as a community safety warden with Dundee City Council, and also with drugs charity The Cairn in a bid to prevent the sharing of needles – but she still believes she could have done more to prevent the death of her son Reece.
She said: “I am very aware of the dangers of drugs and I was aware Reece had been an occasional user – but still he died.
“I know what the signs are and I thought I was doing the right thing by using tough love and making Reece see he couldn’t continue to take drugs and stay at home.
“I genuinely thought that within a couple of days he would come home and everything would be OK. I didn’t expect this to happen.
“I blame myself. Was I spending too much time on my studies and not enough with him?
“Should I have helped him to get involved in more activities?
“I brought my four children up as a single mum and I was working hard to be able to give them a better life.”
Reece’s death has helped Samantha gain some clarity on the situation she is in – and she hopes to help others as time goes on.
She added: “There are no easy answers for parents but if I can raise awareness I will feel that Reece hasn’t died in vain.
“There are many drug awareness and support groups in Dundee and I hope people know how to access them.
“I also want to get the message across that you don’t have to be taking drugs for years and live with an addiction to die of drug use.
“There is always the danger you can die, even if you are just trying something for the first and only time.
“We need to make people more aware of this.
“Reece was only dabbling – but he still died.
”I don’t know how I’m going to get through but I hope that by speaking out I can prevent the death of even one more young person to drugs.”
Reece’s best friend Josh Hamilton has organised a memorial walk across the Tay Road Bridge on Sunday, starting at 2pm.
Josh said: “Everyone is devastated at the loss of Reece and I would like everyone to be reminded that they are not going through this alone.
“If anyone would like to come along just to show their support that would also be greatly appreciated.”