‘Blood is on your hands:' Mother tells pair convicted in son's heroin overdose death

Heroin overdose death

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - The mother of Joshua David Price, who died from a heroin overdose last May, brought an urn filled with his ashes to court Thursday, telling two people convicted in his death that his blood is on their hands.

“It is my own personal 9-11. It’s complete devastation of my life brought on by evil-minded individuals whose hearts are black,’’ Karen Shuck told a packed Kent County courtroom. “You will never escape the haunting reality that Joshua David Price’s blood is on your hands.’’

Price, 34, a father of two boys, died after being injected with heroin at a home near Cedar Springs in northern Kent County. His wife bought the heroin. A mutual friend, Jordan-Luke Vandenbosch, gave the injection.

As Price slipped in and out of consciousness and struggled to breathe, his last moments were recorded by his wife, Bonnie Lee Price.

She and Vandenbosch were convicted for their roles Price’s death; one of 17 confirmed heroin overdose deaths in Kent County last year.

Vandenbosch, 30, apologized for his role.  He described Joshua Price as a good friend whom he loved.

“I feel terrible,’’ he said. “I’m so sorry for the way things turned out. I wish it could have been me instead of him. I know it sounds cliché, but that’s really how I feel.’’

Kent County Circuit Court Judge Dennis B. Leiber sentenced Vandenbosch to between 7 and 21 years in prison for delivery of a controlled substance causing death.

“If there is anything to be gained from this, perhaps it is to give public knowledge that if anyone should be in your position, they should be encouraged to call for help in the hope that a person so grievously affected might have his or her life saved,’’ Leiber said.

Bonnie Price, 43, pleaded guilty in January to delivery/manufacture of heroin and tampering with evidence. In exchange for her plea, prosecutors agreed not to charge her with delivery of a controlled substance causing death. The agreement calls for a minimum term not to exceed slightly more than three years in prison.

Her sentencing, also set for Thursday, March 9, was adjourned for a week.

She admitted to giving Vandenbosch the heroin, which he then mixed and put into three syringes. Vandenbosch injected Price and believes he then injected her husband and himself, court records show.

Price recorded the events, then called friends looking for Narcan, an overdose reversal drug, before eventually calling 911.  

Kent County investigators say Vandenbosch cleaned up drugs and drug paraphernalia while waiting for rescuers to arrive.

They also tossed Joshua Price’s cell phone into a trash bin at a Meijer store on Alpine Avenue NW to get rid of suspected text messages about illegal drugs, court documents show.

The Michigan Legislature in 2006 passed a law making it a felony to deliver a controlled substance causing death.  Prosecutions are rare; it was last used by the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office more than two years ago in a fatal methadone overdose.

Kent County in 2016 logged 83 overdose deaths; about a third were from opioids, including heroin. Another 16 cases are pending.

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