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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rotary Club of Quesnel’s first Walk for Water raises nearly $3,000

The money will be split between the Baker Creek Enhancement Society and the Roll-A-Hippo Foundation

Cariboo Regional District encourages Maple Drive residents to attend March 3 meeting about streetlights

Options for providing lights to improve safety include establishing a new taxation service

Ranch Musings: Encouraging the next generation

David Zirnhelt says balancing business and lifestyle may help the next generation stay on the ranch

Mighty Pucks beat Leftovers in Quesnel high school floor hockey overtime thriller

The Benchwarmers and Nordiques also pick up wins in Week 3

Quesnel Bikers meet the friendliest Good Neighbours in Vietnam

Chris and Heather Hartridge have spent five weeks touring the country and met many wonderful people

VIDEO: Illicit drug overdoses killed 981 in B.C. in 2019, down 38%

Chief coroner says figures were down about a third in the province’s fourth year of the opioid crisis

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Royals, Elvis, Captain Cook: Hundreds of wax figures find new life in B.C. man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

Most Read