VIDEO: ‘I’ll be dealing with my failures as Elliot’s father for the rest of my life’

Parents of Victoria teen who died of an overdose speak outside coroner’s inquest

The parents of an Victoria-area teen who died of a drug overdose say they don’t want other families to experience the trauma of having a child slip from their caring hands.

Rachel Staples and Brock Eurchuk made the comments Wednesday at the conclusion of a B.C. coroner’s inquest into the overdose death of 16-year-old Elliot Eurchuk. The jury was scheduled to begin deliberations Thursday.

“We don’t want other children to navigate our community in a very difficult, vulnerable state and fall through the cracks like Elliot did,” said Brock Eurchuk outside of the inquest. “I’ll be dealing with my failures as Elliot’s father for the rest of my life.”

After struggling with drug addiction for months, Elliot died in his bedroom with a fatal combination of drugs in his system on April, 20, 2018. The inquest is reviewing the circumstances leading up to the teen’s death and ends with the jury making recommendations to prevent future deaths in similar circumstances.

Elliot’s mother, told the jury how her son’s drug issues started after he was prescribed pain medication for a series of surgeries. Staples and her husband believe that medical privacy laws were a barrier to getting their son the treatment he needed.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of inquest into overdose death

READ ALSO: Youth have privacy rights, doctor tells inquest into Oak Bay teen’s opioid death

Experts testifying Wednesday discussed the ethics of admitting a child with opioid addictions to involuntary care.

Kelowna pediatrician Tom Warshawski told the jury how opioid-users in today’s drug climate are at a “high risk of imminent death.”

“Nowadays all bets are off,” he said. “You always have to be prepared for an overdose, full stop. The landscape has totally changed.”

Elliot was forcefully admitted to a psychiatric ward in Victoria for one week following a non-fatal overdose about two months before he died – something Elliot saw as a betrayal, according to testimony from Staples on the first day of the inquest.

But Warshawski said that after an overdose, a person’s capacity is diminished, rendering them, at least temporarily unable to make decisions about their own care. He said compulsory treatment is sometimes necessary for youth with addictions – citing the extremely high death rates from opioid use as a strong enough reason to disregard the wishes of the youth in question.

As it stands, the B.C. Mental Health Act allows involuntary hospital admissions or short periods of time, with the possibility of extension under a doctor’s order. But Warshawski said the same option should be available for long-term secure treatment facilities for uncooperative youth.

Island Health counsel asked him: “If a person overdoses on opioids, they are automatically not competent?”

“I would say they are automatically not competent for a period of time,” Warshawski responded. “Effects of overdose are comparable to a serious head injury … in no way are they competent to make a significant life and death decision for a while after that event.

“It has to be looked at on a case by case basis…”

READ ALSO: Parents call for change to health laws after Oak Bay teen’s death

Dr. Alice Virani, director of ethics for the Provincial Health Services Authority, took the stand late Wednesday morning.

She said autonomy is a key principle of bioethics but the lines can get blurred when it comes to children.

“Every situation is going to be different and context specific,” she said. “Capacity isn’t there or not there, it is decision specific. It can fluctuate over time.

“In relation to privacy, I think it does get quite complicated. We can’t just not do anything…inaction has consequence too. We are in a difficult situation where you have to act in the face of lack of good evidence”

The eight-day inquest heard from more than 40 witnesses.

– with files from Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Abbotsford Regional Hospital’s ER expansion still in the works

Deadline for construction proposals recently closes, but construction timeline unknown

Money in to finish Lougheed Highway twinning

$29 million to complete four laning of four-kilometre stretch in Maple Ridge, but no start date

Figures reveal spike in highway traffic jams between Abbotsford and Langley

Nearly one in 20 westbound vehicles between Abbotsford and Langley clocked at under 60 km/h

Mission council grants third reading to Tunbridge townhome proposal

Speakers at public hearing voice concerns, say project will ‘stick out like an eyesore’

Rolling with the punches

Abbotsford Mission Boxing Club settles into new home on Maclure Road

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Former Fernie Ghostrider re-signs with Vancouver Canucks

Josh Teves has signed a two-year contract with the NHL team

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas

Most Read