At just five years old, Everleigh Miller had no idea that the tiny baggie she’d picked up from her Nanaimo elementary school playground on Friday was carrying a potentially deadly dose of fentanyl.
The youngster told CHEK News Tuesday that she thought the bag looked “a little cute” so she decided to keep it, according to her mother.
“So she picked this little bag up, thought that it looked like, to quote her, ‘a very cute little coin purse she could use,'” said Andrea Miller. “It’s terrifying to think on how close I came to losing not one, but two of my children.”
The tiny Kindergarten student found the bag dropped on the playground of Nanaimo’s Quarterway Elementary on the morning of Friday, April 14. Everleigh had been active in a school program where kids are encouraged to keep their school grounds clean of litter, which is how she came across the small but dangerous plastic baggie.
Andrea said her daughter later told her she kept the baggie with her for the rest of the day and then carried it home in her backpack, to show her two-year-old brother, Remington.
It was there, underneath the family’s kitchen table, that Andrea found her two young children trying to open the immediately identifiable bag.
“They had a tiny little bag with dice on it, and I knew instantly what that bag was,” said the mother.
Andrea alerted RCMP and then sent the bag for testing.
“Mommy took it to the drug station,” said Everleigh.
That’s where the bag’s contents came back positive for fentanyl and benzodiazepine, with not just remnants of the two toxic drugs, but enough that the tester confirmed Andrea’s worst nightmare.
“If the kids had ingested it, it would have been fatal before help got to them,” she said.
Andrea then learned from another Quarterway student’s parent that they had alerted the school after their child found a drug pipe on the playground about a month earlier, but she says parents were not notified.
“Just absolutely terrifying in that moment. Friday night I think I cried, I was sick to my stomach, I was angry,” she said. “No notice was sent out to parents that, hey, this is happening. It’s been found on our school,” she said.
The school litter clean-up has been cancelled in the wake of the fentanyl incident and according to School District 68 Spokesperson Dale Burgos, more extensive sweeps of the grounds are underway and more are being considered.
“If we can do extra sweeps in the morning, whether it’s extra staff or a security company, we’re still exploring all options right now,” said Burgos.
Miller is calling on all parents to talk to their kids often about not picking up any garbage and is urging the district to have Naloxone on hand at all schools with staff trained to administer it, in case another near-tragedy occurs.