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

Nelson teachers union president worried about members ahead of return to classes

Carla Wilson says there are a lot of questions remaining

Pop-up drive-in theatre shows Only in Nelson

The event was a collaboration between the Civic Theatre and Kootenay Co-op Radio

Drugs, stolen bike and cheques seized during RCMP search in Castlegar

Two men were taken into police custody during the search warrant

Morning start: This is the fastest growing city in the Kootenays

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Monday, May 25

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Help the Nelson Star continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Black Press is now accepting donations to keep its papers operating

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Andrew Weaver says he was ready to defeat John Horgan government

Independent MLA blasts B.C. Greens over LNG opposition

44% fewer passengers flew on Canadian airlines in March 2020 than in 2019

COVID-19 pandemic has hit airlines hard as travel remains low

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

B.C. residents can now reserve a provincial campsite for a stay starting June 1

Campsite reservations will only be available to British Columbians

Most Read