Mother whose son, 16, died due to drug overdose speaks out to prevent more deaths

Mother whose son, 16, died due to drug overdose speaks out to prevent more deaths

A new report from BC Coroners Service found that 126 children and youth under 19 died from toxic drugs from 2019 to 2023.

Victoria’s Elliot Eurchuk, 16, seemed to have it all. He was a popular student and an accomplished athlete.

But a series of sports injuries ended all that, according to his mother, Rachel Staples.

“He’s 15. It was literally right before he got injured from his accident,” said Staples in an interview with CHEK News Wednesday.

While waiting for surgery, Elliot was prescribed opioids. But his parents didn’t know why their once happy, healthy child changed dramatically.

“It just manifested into this very quick transition from a healthy, happy young boy to a boy who was seriously struggling,” Staples said.

And in the six years, nine months, and one day since he died at home from an opioid overdose, Staples says nothing has changed.

Coroner’s findings

The coroner’s report released on Tuesday found that 51 per cent of the 126 deaths were females, and 60 per cent were between 17 and 18 years old.

More than 70 per cent died in a private residence, while more than 50 per cent used alone. Fentanyl was found in 83 per cent of all deaths.

READ PREVIOUS: 126 children, youth die due to toxic-drug supply in B.C. over 5 years

In January, 18-year-old Sidney McIntryre-Starko died in her University of Victoria dorm as the result of accidental fentanyl poisoning.

Her parents say campus security failed her by waiting nine minutes to administer naloxone and 12 minutes before starting CPR.

“The parents of Sidney are now requesting similar changes to what we had requested. And that is now six-and-a-half years later. And another child has died. So they need to actually take action,” Staples said.

Story continues below

Elliot was able to keep his addiction from his parents.

B.C. legislation, including the Infants Act, allows children the right to refuse treatment even when addicted to dangerous drugs.

“The fact that this is the leading cause of death in youth under 19 years of old is sickening and breaks my heart. And yet we had another young woman die recently, and a coroner’s inquest is coming up,” Staples said.

Allayah Thomas was only in Grade 6 but struggled for months with substance use. She died of an overdose in 2021.

Her family fought to get her into residential treatment, but her mother, Adriana Londono, said they were told there was nothing available.

“There needs to be rehab facilities for kids under 14, or her age, because we can’t have 12-year-olds dying like this,” Londono told CHEK News in May 2021.

Staples says she will never stop pushing for change to prevent the heartbreak that her family, and too many others, have felt.


Mary GriffinMary Griffin

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!