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

Federal justice minister consults with British Columbians on assisted-death law

During a coast-to-coast tour this week, federal Justice Minister David Lametti has… Continue reading

One last blast of winter tonight for the Valley before temperatures on the rise

A snowfall warning is in effect Friday including east Vancouver Island.

YANA celebrating its 30th annual Big Love Benefit Feb. 28

“The extra touches that the committee has added this year are going to knock some socks off.”

Comox hit with record-breaking snowfall amid winter storm

Comox area saw 10 centimetres more snow than previous 70-year-old record

Cumberland aims to be ‘age-friendly’ for seniors

Older residents still make about a sizeable portion of Village population

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

BC Ferries hybrid ships arrive in Victoria on Saturday

The battery-operated vessels will take over smaller routes

Theft victim confronts suspects with baseball bat on Vancouver Island

RCMP in Nanaimo seek to identify of two people alleged to have used a stolen credit card

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Federal justice minister consults with British Columbians on assisted-death law

During a coast-to-coast tour this week, federal Justice Minister David Lametti has… Continue reading

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

Clerk bruised, traumatized after armed robbery at Nanaimo liquor store

Few details on male suspect in Wednesday incident, says Nanaimo RCMP

Most Read