But she still gasped, and even sobbed a little, as if he was one of her own.
"That's 100, I believe," were the first words she said. Earlier this year, Santiago's 31-year-old son, Erik of Toms River, died after years of prescription-medication abuse.
Later, the news got even worse. Authorities said the Ocean County drug death toll actually climbed to 102, with two more possible pending autopsies.
That's nearly twice last year's amount of 53.
With drugs such as heroin becoming so cheap, and prescription meds so readily available, Santiago is working to "give back," and do something so her son's life can mean so much to others, and even stop others from suffering the same fate.
Santiago is working with the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office and others to hold a vigil for the victims, and their families, on Sunday. The event will be held at 2 p.m., at the St. Paul Lutheran Church, at 130 Cable Ave, or the intersection of Routes 9 and. 166, in Beachwood.
The event's invitation reads:
"Join with the families of Ocean County/In a Candle Light Service of Remembrance/Of those family members and friends/Who died in 2013 from an overdose."
There, Santiago hope to bring people together who have never known each other before. Somehow, perhaps, they'll try to make sense of all this, however unlikely that is.
"I can't wrap my brain around it," she said. "It's an epidemic."
Everyone is welcome to attend, she said. But she did specifically target people like herself who have lost a loved one, and are still grieving.
"I think about it and it's a terribly bad dream," she said.
Santiago said her son, who lived with her in Toms River, was addicted to Xanax. He got himself off it, but he was told that, in order to get any kind of help, he had to be using.
He told his mother not to worry, that he can control it because the meds aren't like the street drugs that can be more dangerous, but just as lethal.
"Then he went asleep forever," she said.