Photos of Elliot Eurchuk at different stages of his short life. (Keri Coles/News Staff)

VIDEO: Oak Bay mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of inquest into overdose death

Jury to make recommendations based on death of Elliot Eurchuk, 16

An inquest that could change the handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis went ahead in Victoria today.

With a box of tissues on every table, the small University of Victoria’s dispute resolution room was nearly at capacity for the coroner’s inquest into the overdose death of Greater Victoria teenager Elliot Eurchuk, who died at 16 from a drug overdose.

The inquest will review the circumstances leading up to the teen’s death and explore opportunities for the jury to make recommendations to prevent future deaths in similar circumstances.

READ ALSO: Parents call for change to health laws after Oak Bay teen’s death

READ ALSO: Oak Bay dad pens letter urging overhaul of youth health laws after son’s fatal overdose

From the outside, the Oak Bay family appeared to have it all: Mother, Rachel Staples is a successful dentist and husband Brock Eurchuk, a businessman. Elliot was one of three healthy boys who liked sports and the outdoors.

But the first day of the coroner’s inquest paints a picture of an imploding family dynamic. Between moving homes, the breakdown of a business partnership, Staples’ breast cancer diagnosis and Elliot’s descent into drug addiction, the family was facing enormous battles.

On Monday morning Staples told the five-person jury how she discovered her son unresponsive in bed at the family’s home on April 20, 2018. That morning, when she noted the alarm on the front door was disabled, she immediately panicked. She went to Elliot’s room and discovered him lying sideways on his bed with his head to the side.

She ran, screaming, to her bedroom closet where she kept naloxone, which she administered into his thigh.

“I knew he was gone,” Staples said through tears. “But when [my husband] came into the room I wanted him to know we tried everything we could to revive him.”

It was too late. Elliot had died with a combination of drugs – including cocaine and fentanyl – in his system.

READ ALSO: Dix says B.C. remains focused on fighting youth overdoses in wake of teen’s death

Staples described how, in the years leading to his death, her “caring, witty, spunky” son changed from an introverted book worm to a withdrawn and secretive teenager, coping with chronic pain and self-medicating with drugs.

After catching her son using a vaporizer, Staples searched his room. She found Ativan, Xanax, Diazepam and Triazolam – drugs she later realized Elliot had stolen from a locked location in her dental office. According to records, she also found Dilaudid (hydromorphone) tablets – or opioid analgesics.

That was before Elliot was prescribed opioid pain-killers following surgeries to his jaw and shoulder and while records presented in the first day of the inquest suggest the teen was using opioids before they were prescribed, Staples believes the 60-days of Dilaudid tablets he was prescribed post-surgery solidified her son’s addiction.

“That’s a huge dose for a young brain,” Staples said. “I don’t know how you could go away not being addicted to opioids after that.”

Staples believes her son was self-medicating to deal with chronic pain and the related sleeplessness – which she believed was causing him a great deal of anxiety, but she says as his substance-use dependency grew, she and her husband Brock were left in the dark.

They attempted to get access to his health records, but were told that Elliot had requested confidentiality. Based on the Infants Act – the 16-year-old’s request was honoured by doctors.

Without confirmation that he was using opioids, Staples was unable to confirm her suspicions of Elliot’s drug use – and Brock, she says, was in adamant denial. Staples said the inability to make decisions about her son’s health care, and even have knowledge of what drugs were in his system, was detrimental to the family’s approach.

In fact their first clear insight into Elliot’s addiction wasn’t until winter, 2018, after he overdosed in the hospital and was saved by Naloxone – a synthetic drug that blocks opiate receptors.

Staples hopes the inquest into her son’s death will change families’ right to information.

“After his death I obtained all of his records from the hospital and reading through those reports… I thought, had one doctor been honest with us, Elliot would still be here,” Staples said. “I don’t know how a child whose brain is washed in opioids and clearly going down the path of substance use can possibly make a rational decision about his own health care.”

As the inquest continues, the jury will hear from family members, friends and neighbours, toxicology and pathology experts as well as members of the Oak Bay and Saanich police departments involved in Elliot’s case.



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

VicPD says circumstances around missing teen are ‘high-risk’

Arianna McKenzie last seen in Centennial Square

Canada Post aware of ongoing email, text phishing scams

Scammers pretending to be Canada Post will ask for personal and payment information

Suicide rates not impacted by seasons

While men are three times more likely to commit suicide, women have higher rates of depression

PHOTOS: Hundreds celebrate Year of the Rat in Victoria’s Chinatown

Lion dancers and kung fu demonstrations on display

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Ontario confirms second presumptive coronavirus case in wife of first patient

Both arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Most Read