Whenever Tatum Price visits the cemetery where his son Carson is buried, he plays his favorite songs.
On the first anniversary of his death, he brought with him the small portable speaker that accompanied the teenager crazy about music wherever he went.
Carson Price was only 13 when she took an ecstasy tablet marked with the image of the video game character Donkey Kong while out with friends in Ystrad Mynach Park on April 12, 2019.
A passerby warned emergency services when he saw Carson stumble and get sick. He was taken to the hospital but died on the same day.
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His death shocked the community of Hengoed, Caerphilly, where Carson lived and raised concern about the availability of drugs for children and young people.
“Every time I go to the cemetery I play his songs for him,” said Tatum, 40.
“We talk about him as if he were here. We never talk about him in the past. We always talk about him as if he were here with us.”
Tatum said that Carson was a kind and sociable boy, and that he often left the house to play with friends, so he thought little of it when he left the house on the evening of Friday 12 April of last year.
But Tatum said that she, along with Carson’s father, Brian and little brother Coby, had tried to come to terms with the fact that he had never returned home.
An investigation held at the Gwent coroner court on April 3 heard Carson take “an excessive amount of MDMA” and “react violently”.
Despite the efforts of medical personnel, he passed away from the effects of methylenedoxymethamphetamine (MDMA) toxicity at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.
Assistant medical examiner Sarah Le Fevre concluded that Carson’s death was linked to drugs.
“It has been up and down to be honest,” said Tatum.
“It is certainly difficult and not at all easier. I would lie to people if I said it happened.
“But I think you will get used to Carson who doesn’t wake up here. I think you should keep thinking that he is only at school because if you think about it too much he will consume you.
“I’ve talked to some moms and they seem to be the same. If you think too much about reality, you crumble.”
Tatum said she suffered from depression after Carson’s death, but improved with the help of medications and focusing on her training.
“I think it was a godsend to combat depression training,” he said.
“I didn’t want to follow the path of antidepressants, but at some point I had to get away from it and I concentrated on my training.
“Training helps a lot. I’m lucky because it’s my profession but it has helped me. When I have a lesson, it’s like a person I put. So you act like someone else.”
Tatum and Brian’s younger son, Coby, was just nine when he lost his older brother and recently had to celebrate his tenth birthday without Carson.
“Coby will talk about Carson, but if I talk about Carson’s disappearance, the conversation with me will end,” said Tatum. “He won’t talk about it.
“I think being isolated now is enough for him because he would have had Carson. It’s difficult for him.
“He had a consultation, but I think of course he can’t show his emotions and that’s what makes him so upset so easily.
“It’s difficult because I have to be happy mom in front of him. But I’m also in mourning. I know when he’s down and he’s angry. You know the reason but obviously I can’t help him in any way. It’s very frustrating.”
Gwent police made three arrests last year following Carson’s death.
A 14-year-old boy from Pontllanfraith in Blackwood was arrested on April 18 on charges of supplying Class A drugs.
A 20-year-old man from Pontllanfraith was arrested on April 23 on charges of providing class A drugs and a 21-year-old man from Newbridge was arrested on June 5 on charges of the same offense.
All three were released under investigation. A Gwent police spokesman said there were no further updates on the case.
Tatum said it was difficult for the family not to see anyone face justice for what happened to Carson.
“I know Carson put the drug in his mouth and nobody is to blame for it, but he shouldn’t have been able to take it.
“We have to set an example. If they don’t start to set an example, it will continue. It will do well to sell to children and this is what he has to stop because it is not good.”
Tatum has already talked about the importance of educating children about the dangers of drugs.
“There will always be naive kids out there who will think ‘I’ll be fine if I take it’ and we have to educate them that this won’t happen.
“I know there will always be drugs out there, but we have to stop these children. We have to protect our little ones and we have to make people talk and raise awareness because this happens in our small communities.
“Feel that they will never follow this path, but it could be any child,” he said.
On Easter Sunday, the family visited the cemetery and Tatum, Brian and Coby subsequently unleashed fireworks in Carson’s memory.
“It was because it’s Carson’s little family,” he said. “It was nice to have just the three of us and it’s Carson’s day. It was all about Carson.”