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Dad seeks answers son's death

Published: Mon, October 18, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

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A fundraiser is planned to memorialize Nicholas Austin Kovacs who died of a drug overdose in June.


  • WHAT: Benefit spaghetti dinner and auction
  • WHEN: Noon Nov. 6
  • WHERE: Mineral Ridge Church of Christ, Main Street, Mineral Ridge.
  • PURPOSE: Proceeds will defray costs of burial and a headstone for Nicky. Additional proceeds would benefit needy children in the area in Nicky’s name.

Source: Nicholas H. Kovacs

By John W. Goodwin Jr.



A local father and grandmother are looking for justice in the death of an 18-month-old boy and are hoping for community support to properly memorialize him.

By all accounts, 18-month-old Nicholas Austin Kovacs was a happy, healthy young boy. He loved the sound and display of fireworks. He loved to ride horses on the carousels at amusement parks, and he loved the boxer-mix dog that would lie at the foot of his crib like a protective guard.

Nicholas’ canine companion, however, could not protect him from a small prescription pill that would ultimately take his life.

On June 17, Nicholas was spending the day at home with his 28-year-old mother. She told police she put the boy to bed in a crib at about 2 p.m., but when she checked on him a few hours later, Nicholas was dead.

The mother declined to be interviewed for this story.

The Mahoning County coroner’s office later determined the boy had died of an overdose of Suboxone. Suboxone is used to treat those addicted to opiates such as heroin.

A funeral for Nicholas took place several months ago, but Nicholas Kovacs Sr., Nicholas’ father, and Cathy Debinder, Nicholas’ grandmother, want to erect a headstone commemorating the child’s short life. They hope to have the headstone in place by Nov. 9, which would have been the boy’s second birthday.

To purchase the headstone, the family has planned a spaghetti-dinner fundraiser at noon Nov. 6 at the Mineral Ridge Church of Christ on Main Street in Mineral Ridge. The event will include an auction.

Kovacs said he hopes to raise enough money to purchase the headstone and finish paying some of the final burial expenses for his son, but he also hopes the fundraiser can add a little joy to the life of other young kids.

“The goal is to raise the $4,000 for my son’s headstone, but anything we raise over that will go to needy kids for Christmas in the name of Baby Nicky,” Kovacs said.

Kovacs also is looking for someone to face charges in his son’s death. He said it has been four months, and someone must be held accountable for allowing the young boy to get access to the pills that killed him.

Capt. Rod Foley of the Youngstown Police Department said police investigated the death and turned findings over to the city prosecutor’s office. He said he is waiting on that office to determine if any charges will be filed before any arrests are made.

Debinder has spent the time since her grandson’s death becoming a self-taught expert on Suboxone. She is hoping the drug sees tighter regulations and the taste is changed so that it is not appealing to kids.

“I want something good to come out of this. I want my grandson’s life to have had purpose,” Debinder said. “I think they need to explore this drug more.”


1iscreamin(2 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

I feel for your loss, it is a senseless tradgedy which someone should be held accountable. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers. God bless.

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2FifthAve(168 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

This article fails to answer the most important question: did the mother know what type of meds she was giving to her son? What kids under 2 takes a pill? Why in the world would a headstone cost $4000?

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3walter_sobchak(1750 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

I feel for the familiy's tragic loss of the innocent life of their child. To me, to bury one's own child, no matter the age is a fate worse than my own death.

However, since it doesn't seem likely that an 18 month old child can obtain a medication and take it himself, this isn't really an accident but homocide. Maybe negligent homicide. Medications have child -proof caps and should be stored away from kids. I can't believe the investigation would take this long but it is YPD and the City of Youngstown.

But, the grandmother blaming the pill and/or the manufacturer is laughable. Suboxone is used to treat opioid dependance. It is taken by placing it in the mouth, under the tongue, to dissolve. It is not swallowed, chewed, injected, ec. Thus, bad taste must be minimized. Since it is used for treating a chemical dependancy, it would appear the investigation should be rather straight-forward here! Duh!

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4hnolfi(1 comment)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Are you people that stupid or just that cruel??? Number 1 the $4000.00 is for stone and for remaining funeral costs, if you read it right you would of caught that.
Number 2 The grandmother is not blaming the pill.. Who cares if a drug addict has to take something that taste bad, they shouldn't be drug addicts. This med is a very sweet candy tasting pill that would be good to a child. You don't see drug companies making nitro taste good for heart patients, and that goes under your tongue.
The whole point is it shouldn't of been around the child. The mother shouldn't have the privilage of having children.
It is such a sad thing for them to deal with.
I hope you both get what your hoping for.. I know many people who will be at your dinner..

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5walter_sobchak(1750 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Bad comparison. Nitro is used for people with angina in an acute situation to provide life-saving relief. Suboxone must be palatable to encourage those with opioid dependence not to stop taking the pill. But, the grandmother "is hoping the drug sees tighter regulations and the taste is changed so that it is not appealing to kids". Sounds to me like she is blaming the drug. Seems to me she should hope for locking up drug abusers in a treatment facility or prison so this kind of tragedy doesn't happen.

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6Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Let's arrest and imprison with no parole all of the high level drug dealers ! Drug dealers and drug houses are well known . Eliminate the sources of heroin and there will be no need for Suboxone .

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7goman71(104 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

yeah stan its he drug dealers fault not the person using heroin. we control our own destiny , i have never used drugs ..period! oh yeah lets put mcdonalds on trial for all the obese people and coors brewing for all the people that get DUIs and kill people on the road. the drug dealers and drug users should both go to jail,. no sympathy for one or the other.. we make choices that we are responsible for every day, bad or good.. LIVE WITH THEM!geez stan .. i thought i was the liberal here.

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8goman71(104 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

she hasant been charged yet because stan believes the police should direct all their investigative forces on the drug dealer not the woman with the lengthy criminal record.poor woman has had such a horrible life lets just put her in rehab , that will make her a better person, works every time. poor child was probably born with heroin in his system , what a shame.

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9vindysugar(3 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Beautiful Baby Nicky, I'm so afraid that no one will be held accountable for your death. You did not have to die. You were a victim of our system and that system failed you. You were not protected by the poeple that had the power to protect you and should have, they turned their heads and you paid the final price. RIP Baby Boy you will be forever young and never forgotten.

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10najjjj(106 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Most of you on here spew such hatred it sickenings me to the depth of my soul. This article was about a father and grandmother, who have lost an 18 month old son and grandchild. They want to do right by Baby Nicky and erect a memorial stone. It's no ones business how large, ornate or costly it is......or that they want to use any excess money to give to needy children. If you don't want to contribute, don't.....it's as simple as that. They are trying to comes to grips with an unimaginable loss. A mostly impossible task. I know, I've buried a child. So the rest of you that have nothing but hate to spew, you have no idea what you are talking about , for once please shut the heck up, show some respect for the lost child and the loved ones left behind.

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11uncommonman(4 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Very interesting criminal history with these people. The story printed here leaves out "just the facts" it is what it is Youngstown

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12lisab(1 comment)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

you did a good job in lookin up the scumbag mother!! good for you!! She had the script!! I know these people, and jessica is a drug addict and has been for many years.. she should go down for this..lil nicky was at her home with her pills when this happened..I feel someone is dragin their feet over this up in the court system..imagane that..jessica is about to have her 5th baby..all by different men!! she is a washed up stripper girl..SHE don't deserve to have any children at all..something is so wrong in this world now a days..

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13itsmee(1 comment)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

I met this girl, she has something wrong with her...socialpath or something. Can someone please take her new baby. I'm surprized her other kids survived. She's not in jail because her mother works for the (crooked youngstown) police.

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14AmberDeBear(1 comment)posted 9 months ago

Nicky is my brother, i don't like how you guys are talking about my mother, yes she was addicted to drugs , but we dont even think those were hers, it was in her car . my aunt is also addicted to drugs.
nick (the father) was no better than my mom.

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