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WDAY: The News Leader

Published June 18, 2013, 10:26 PM

Fargo family remembers loved one, sends message end addiction

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV)-- Two years ago today, a Fargo man plunged into the Red River. For 12 minutes, the 32-year- old was trapped inside his car, underwater.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV)-- Two years ago today, a Fargo man plunged into the Red River. For 12 minutes, the 32-year- old was trapped inside his car, underwater.

Days later, James Gress, a new father, would die.

Tonight, his family looks back on his life by helping others who are struggling with Addiction.

James Gress Jr. Was an addict. And today, all that's left of him are these tokens of love from his family. And a message they want to leave behind in his legacy.

No matter how much glue, or colored ribbons, it won't bring Jimmy Junior back.

Sarah Chatelain-Gress- Wife of James Gress Jr.: "The only thing that's really saved me is the opportunity to actually talk."

Instead, family and friends rely on what he believed most. That, there was a better way of life.

Chatelain-Gress: "You'll hear about them dying of an overdose but I don't think it really hits home."

According to Hazelden Research, 79 percent of people who have substance abuse issues in the U.S., work a full or part-time job. That included James Gress and his wife Sarah.

And recovering wasn't easy.

Chatelain-Gress: "I tried committing suicide before I did that."

So, today they walk. Walk to the fence, Jimmy's car crashed into, rolling down into the river. The river that would take his life.

James Gress-Father to James Gress Jr.: "It's difficult."

The last two years have been tough. Especially for his dad.

Gress: "We make choices in life and he made his choice"

Who watched his son struggle with synthetic drugs.

Gress: "They hurt you, they do a lot of terrible things but they, they just need love."

The day before James died, he admitted to his dad he'd been clean for about three weeks.

Living up to his message, he now leaves behind.

Chatelain-Gress: "He was always like, it's about the message, about that there's a better way of life outside of using."

Family and friends say they want to honor james just this way every single year. So, his message isn't forgotten.

If you, or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there is family and individual counseling at the Lost and Found Ministry.

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