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'Sal didn't die in vain'

New law 'bittersweet' for mom who lost son

Gov. Christie's decision to sign the Overdose Protection Act  was a change of heart for which Patty DiRenzo deserves at least some of the credit.

But the Blackwood resident, whose son Sal Marchese died of an illegal drug overdose in 2010, isn't resting on any laurels.

"Anything I can do, I will do," DiRenzo declares -- such as letting people know that the '911 Good Samaritan" portion of the legislation the governor signed May 2 is already in force.

The measure protects individuals who summon emergency help for overdose victims. Sal Marchese was found dead in a car in North Camden; his mother is convinced that someone was with him when he overdosed but fled the scene for fear of arrest. A second component of OPA, which protects parents, caregivers or others who administer medication to counter the effects of overdose, goes into effect July 1.

DiRenzo was with Christie and rocker Jon Bon Jovi, whose daughter survived an overdose, at the signing ceremony.

"It was so bittersweet," she said. "But this fight, and everything I did, was to save lives. Even if it's just one life. But I know it's going to be more."

"Sal," DiRenzo added, "didn''t die in vain."