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The Knock at 3am to Report a Death Wasn't the Family's Last

The 'Tennessean' looks at the toll the opioid crisis has had on the Baltzes
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2018 10:45 AM CDT
The Nashville skyline is shown in this stock photo.   (Getty Images/JByard)

(Newser) – Just before Christmas 2015, former 3 Doors Down bassist Robert "Todd" Harrell was sentenced to two years in prison after being convicted in a fatal 2013 crash that occurred on Nashville's I-40. He was driving at 101mph when he clipped a pickup being driven by Paul Shoulders Jr.; the truck rolled, killing Shoulders, and alprazolam and oxycodone were found in Harrell's system. Shoulders' 2013 death was the first of three tied to drugs that Tina Baltz would come to experience, reports the Tennessean in a look at the toll the opioid crisis has taken on one family. Shoulders was Baltz's 47-year-old brother; she learned of his death via a 3am knock on the door of her Nashville home. That knock happened again in 2016: Ralph Hardin, her grandchildren's father and the former partner of her daughter Heather, was dead.

The 29-year-old had been shot with his own gun at the Red Roof Inn, perhaps by accident and by his own hand, police determined. Baltz and her husband, Mickey, believe he was at the motel to confront the man who had been supplying Heather with drugs; Hardin had been living with the Baltzes to help raise his two kids. As for Heather, she developed a heroin addiction after being prescribed pain pills in the wake of her 2014 gallbladder surgery. She did time for stealing and cycled in and out of rehab three times. When Hardin died, her parents obtained custody of Braelyn, 8, and Tyler, 4. "Heather was high when she signed the papers," per Mickey. Heather died in February at age 28, having suffered a heart infection that doctors suspect was caused by a contaminated drug needle. Read the full story at the Tennessean . (Read more opioids stories.)

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