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

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

Victoria police seek witnesses after a 17-year-old girl was sexually assaulted on a BC Transit bus. (Black Press Media file photo)
Police seek witnesses after teen sexually assaulted on Victoria bus

Man followed a teen onto a bus from a stop at Douglas and Fort streets

A project on McCallum Road will add 227 residential units to Langford. (Photo courtesy of Highstreet Ventures)
Residential project slated for McCallum Road in Langford

Six-storey development will be built to highest energy-efficiency standards

Saanich police reported a crash on the Pat Bay Highway near Haliburton Road impacting southbound traffic Friday afternoon. (Google Maps)
TRAFFIC: Two-vehicle collision impacts southbound traffic on Pat Bay Highway

Saanich police diverting traffic in area, emergency crews on scene

Kelly Lord is regaining her footing at the Sandy Merriman Women’s Shelter after mental illness left her isolated and homeless. She was featured in Victoria News’ special series on mental health in Greater Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria News’ mental health series gets nod for national award

Investigative series, resource guide take a look at mental health in Greater Victoria

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 1

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Lake Trail Middle School in Courtenay has closed again due to a threat Friday (Dec 4). File photo
Island middle school closed for the second time in a week due to threat

On Nov. 26, Lake Trail Middle School was closed for a day while a similar incident occurred.

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

Watch Messiah at home with the Sooke Philharmonic

Concert available to stream Dec. 12

Emergency crews used a backhoe loader to clear fire debris from the scene of a fire on Wesley Street Thursday as police and firefighters gathered up propane tanks, stoves and fireplaces used by camp residents to heat tents. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
City of Nanaimo dismantles downtown homeless encampment after fire

Four to six tents burned up in Wesley Street fire Thursday, Dec. 3

Most Read