Mesa parents suing Snapchat for role in son’s death, saying app enables drug dealers

The family says more and more kids are finding drug dealers on Snapchat, communicating in emoji's.
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 8:59 PM MST
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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A teen died, and his parents say the popular social media app Snapchat played a role. “And I had to take his dead finger and put it on his phone to open it. So we could see what was in it. That’s how we found out,” said Zach’s father, Roy Plunk.

“These companies make billions of dollars. They could change their practices in a second, but they don’t. Simply because they make too much money,” said Matthew Gerbman, with the Social Media Victims Law Center.

Zach Plunk, a 17-year-old at the time, was a star football player at Hamilton High School struggling with an injury. His parents, Wendy and Roy Plunk, say Zach was looking for a Percocet to help with the injury and found a drug dealer on Snapchat. “He had dreams of going to Baylor one day to play football. He was a really exceptional football player. He wanted to go to college to play ball. But he didn’t get that chance,” Roy said.

But it wasn’t Percocet. The pill was entirely fentanyl, and Zach passed away immediately in his front yard. “It doesn’t matter where you take your kid. Snapchat can follow you to the highest mountain and the lowest valley. And a drug dealer can be at your home in 30 minutes,” said Roy.

Now his parents and the social media victims law center are suing Snapchat, hoping they’ll change their practices. “Snapchat has it where everything disappears. And it is scary. The parents don’t even have a chance. They don’t even know what’s going on,” Wendy said.

Gerbman said that Snapchat executives are “lacking common sense,” saying that “these products are explicitly designed to evade parental responsibility and to evade parental oversight.”

A spokesperson for Snapchat saying in part quote:

But the Plunk’s say that’s not enough. “Snapchat says they’re getting the news out. That’s the thing, I haven’t seen anything they’ve done so far,” Roy said.

Now they want to hold the company accountable, so this doesn’t happen again. “Will kids still make bad decisions? Of course they will. But will they have to die for them? No,” said Gerbman.