The impact of Jimmy Hayes’ death is still being felt by his loved ones.
As we previously reported, the former hockey player passed away in August at the age of 31. He is survived by his wife Kristen Hayes and their sons Beau (2) and Mac (5 months). At the time of his funeral, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts medical examiner’s office stated that his cause of death was “pending” as they waited for results of the toxicology report.
On Monday, E! News confirmed the sad news that the athlete had died of “acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl and cocaine.” Even more unfortunately, the results came as a surprise to his widow.
Over the weekend, Kristen told The Boston Globe:
“I was completely shocked. I was so certain that it had nothing to do with drugs. I really thought it was a heart attack or anything that wasn’t that [drugs]… It didn’t make any sense, so it was hard. I was hoping to get a different phone call when they called. I was hoping to get some clarity, and I was shocked to hear that it was that… He never showed any signs of a struggle at home.”
The former Boston Bruin’s father, Kevin Hayes, was also “in shock when it happened,” but “started putting stuff together in my head” as a recovering addict himself. He shared with the outlet:
“I know what addiction does. I know about addiction. … About maybe 16 or 17 months ago, I saw a little change in Jimmy’s behavior, and I went to him, and I said, ‘I think there might be a problem here with pills.’ He had had an injury for a while, and I think he started taking the painkillers, and they get you. I said, ‘Jim, I think I see a problem here.’ And he’s 31 years old so I can’t tell him to go get help. So I said, ‘When you want help, I’ll be here for you, pal. Let me know.’”
Weeks later, his son did come to him for help, and ended up spending time in a rehab facility:
“So he gets help, and everything was on the path to recovery, I thought. But this [expletive] is so powerful.”
The opioid epidemic has become so deadly in recent times that it takes very little to reach a lethal overdose, so it’s no wonder his loved ones were taken by surprise. Jimmy could have been sober after his rehab visit, but it only takes one slip up with fentanyl-laced drugs to change everything. The amount of similar stories we’ve heard over the last few months is completely heartbreaking.
Kevin said he hoped Jimmy wouldn’t be “stigmatized like as a [expletive] junkie,” and hoped that his story might help save the life of someone else struggling with addiction. As for how she hoped her husband would be remembered, Kristen wrote:
“He would never want to see me, and the boys, and our family hurting the way we are. I know he would give anything to still be here with us today. I am heartbroken and devastated, but I will choose to remember my husband and the boys’ dad by all the joy and love he brought us, and I hope everyone else does, too.”
What a beautiful sentiment. We continue to keep Kristen and her family in our thoughts.
[Image via Kristen Hayes/Instagram]