Scott Grier would have been 36 last week. Instead, on his birthday, his parents searched his name on Google to discover he had died — eight months ago.
“We searched his name, and first came up his resolved missing persons case from 2020, then bang, obituary,” said Michele Grier, Scott’s stepmom from Stony Plain, Alberta.
“His full name and birthday were there,” said Glen Grier, Scott’s dad.
Scott had been living on the streets in Victoria, struggling with addiction and homelessness. He didn’t have a cellphone, so he was hard to get a hold of. Usually, the family waited for him to call but eight months since speaking was unusually long.
Scott liked to call to catch up with his seven-year-old daughter living with Glen and Michele.
“He had his issues, like many of us,” said Glen. “But he could walk into a building anywhere, and make friends instantly.”
“He was fun-loving. He was adventurous,” said Michele.
(Scott Grier is shown with family members including his parents, who learned of his death via Google. Photo submitted)
Upon seeing the obituary, the Griers didn’t believe Scott could have been dead for eight months without them knowing.
“It is a fraud, could someone just be spoofing?” thought Michele. “The first call we made was to the police and they said they’d get back to us, but they didn’t.
Michele says Victoria Police forwarded her on to BC Coroners Service, whose office confirmed Scott had died of a fentanyl overdose on May 16, 2022.
The Griers came to understand that the Ministry of Social Development organized Scott’s funeral arrangements. The obituary’s initial bare-bones post had his full name and birthdate.
‘Someone’s dropped the ball’
The couple says Victoria Police also have Scott’s fingerprints from previous brushes with the law, his photographs, and Glen’s contact information from when Scott had previously gone missing.
Regardless, they say no effort by any group was made to notify them of their son’s death.
“They had the means. They had the means to call us. We’re not hard to find,” said Michele.
To make matters worse for the Griers, no one is accepting responsibility.
The Ministry of Social Development told CHEK News it’s BC Coroner’s job to notify next-of-kin. The coroner’s office told CHEK News it’s Victoria Police’s responsibility. Victoria Police told CHEK News they’d get back to us “likely early next week.”
“Somebody’s dropped the ball and is afraid,” said Glen. “Or they don’t have the proper processes in place and there are other people who aren’t getting notified.”
Michelle thinks the lack of effort in trying to find Scott’s family may be connected to the stigma against some of the province’s most vulnerable.
“Is it because they’re on the streets? Is it because they don’t matter? Is that where we’re going now?” asked Michele.
After going public with their story in Alberta, the Griers have been hearing from other people saying similar situations have happened to them.
“It’s bad enough to lose a loved one, never mind finding out later by yourself,” said Glen.
He’s speaking up so no other parent is notified about their child’s death like he and his wife were, eight months later.