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DRUG CRISIS: Friends mourn girl, 16, and mother

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WEST PITTSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WOLF) -- As teenagers try to come to grips with the death of a former Wyoming Area high school student, word comes that her mother is now also dead.

Friends say the teenager had completed a few stays in rehab this year, which interrupted time at the school she used to attend.

After that, friends say she'd moved with family to the Philadelphia area, where she was found dead in a motel two Sundays ago.

Grace Eslick, 16, was a friend to many, including Sadie Gutierrez, who pasted Grace's picture on her phone after last Sunday's wake.

"I met her last year when I was with my friend, Liz, and I met her and Jess, which is her best friend, and we kind of just became close then," says Gutierrez. "She helped me through a lot, and I saw her before she passed and I'm just happy I got to say goodbye."

Jessica Weaver knew Grace since elementary school.

"I didn't have any friends and when I met her, she was my first sleepover, just like my first real best friend," says Weaver.

She couldn't believe it when she heard Grace was dead.

"My world stopped and everybody else was just going," says Weaver.

Grace's obituary says she lost her battle with addiction, and that "our nation is in the grips of an epidemic that is claiming our children."

The obituary says that beautiful Grace, who loved make-up, music, fashion, and animals, and had "so much potential," is now an angel.

Some friends wrote letters and stayed in touch while she was in rehab.

"She used to talk to me about it and just tell me how it was just hard and she wished things could be different," says friend Elizabeth Czerniakowski. "I always told her if she never needed anybody to talk to, she could call me."

They thought she was doing great, after moving to Ridley Park, Delaware County, with her dad for this school year.

"She told me she was praying and she was working out," says Czerniakowski. "She was cooking dinner for her dad every night."

They'd still see her here for her brother's football games.

"I was like hey and she hugged me and she said she'll me later and I never saw her again," says Gutierrez.


After four days of mourning, including a vigil at Kirby Park last Saturday and burial in New Jersey on Tuesday, Grace's friends just learned this weekend that her mom has also died.

"It's just like a tragedy. Desiree was like a second mom to me," says Weaver.

Grace's friends say the mother, Desiree, already had heartache after losing a three-year-old boy to a sudden drowning in New Jersey, before losing her only daughter on Oct. 29.

"I just wish this drug thing would stop and it's sad, because I'm so young, and there's just... it's just so, she had her whole life," says Gutierrez.


The Delaware County Medical Examiner's Office says Grace's cause of death has not yet been determined. She was buried in New Jersey, where the family had once lived.

Meantime, her mom's last Facebook posting is a link to the NBC News article from January about Luzerne County's heroin epidemic.




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