Becky Barker, 14, consoles her nephew Cole Johnson, 7, at a pre memorial for 16-year-old Abby Barker at the Esquimalt Lagoon. Abby died suddenly on Thursday from what family are saying is a suspected overdose. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

West Shore teen who died of suspected fentanyl overdose remembered as ‘kind’, ‘bubbly’

Abby Barker, 16, was set to attend Oak Bay High in the fall

Dozens of teens and family members made their way to the Esquimalt Lagoon Wednesday afternoon to remember a West Shore teenager who died last week.

Abby Barker, a 16-year-old Belmont Secondary School student, was remembered for her bubbly attitude and love of animals. Friends came in droves to the lagoon, consoling each other and remembering Barker.

“We just happened to pass each other outside of school and I just knew I had to be her friend,” said Sammy Elder, 16, who met Barker in the first week of high school. “She’s very bubbly, I think that’s a good word to use.”

Austin Bendall, 17, met Barker at a school basketball game under the bleachers.

“I remember when I met her, I felt like I had known her for years already,” Bendall said. “She was just so kind and I had no idea who this girl was and she was just dancing with her friend right beside me.”

Elder said Barker was the kind of person who would befriend anyone within minutes of talking to them and it was evident in the number of students that showed up at the pre memorial. Some sat on driftwood, exchanging stories about Barker, while others helped erect a cross on the beach made of driftwood.

Barker’s older sister, Selena Johnson, said she helped raise her son and gave her the courage to get a job.

“She’s younger than me and I was like wow I look up to you,” Johnson said. “She’s always trying to help. Heaven gained an angel that’s for sure.”

Becky Barker, Abby’s younger sister by 18 months, wore a purple tie-dye shirt that belonged to Abby and held a pink daisy in her hand. She said the two of them were extremely close.

“We’ve always shared a room my entire life,” Barker said. “I was just talking about this a couple months ago, I said ‘mom kept us in a room together way too long, we’ll never be able to be apart,’ and she said, ‘that’s how I feel too, we’re going to have to move out together.’”

Abby Barker moved to Oak Bay recently to live with her father, Anthony. She was set to go to Oak Bay High School in the fall and according to Anthony, was looking forward to it.

“She just turned 16…she was looking forward to start driving,” Anthony said. “The next day I was going to take her to get her bangs trimmed… she just wanted to live life. Abby was just a precious little girl.”

Anthony said earlier Wednesday he received a phone call from the coroner saying they found pure fentanyl in Abby. He is calling for the police to continue investigating the death of his daughter.

“There’s a lot of anger here too, people want justice,” Anthony said.

Kyla Johnson, the eldest of the sisters, said everyone is showing their emotions in different ways whether it be sadness, anger or denial.

“We’re all just here like it’s her birthday party and we’re waiting for her to show up,” she said. “I love her, and I will cherish her forever.”

The youths and family members planned to write messages in bottles for Barker, as a way to say goodbye. While many said they would take the opportunity to send one final “I love you” to her, others had more personal messages that they hope she will receive.

“I will carry her with me for the rest of my life,” Elder said.

The West Shore RCMP and B.C. Coroners Service were called to a Langford residence on Thursday afternoon for a sudden death. While the organizations could not confirm the identity of the deceased or cause of death since the investigation is ongoing, friends and family identified her as Abby Barker and indicated she died of what they said is a suspected overdose.

Last Wednesday, Island Health issued a warning after overdoses in Greater Victoria doubled in the past week due to a stronger supply of drugs.

According to an Island Health medical health officer, Dr. Dee Hoyana, there is an average of four overdoses a week in Greater Victoria.

The B.C. Coroners Service and West Shore RCMP have not provided any more details about the investigation.

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Kyla Johnson embraces a friend of 16-year-old Abby Barker. Johnson is Barker’s older sister. Barker died suddenly on Thursday from what family are saying is a suspected overdose. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Becky Barker (left, 14), is consoled by Sammy Elder, 16, and Austin Bendall, 17. They gathered at the Esquimalt Lagoon Wednesday along with dozens of others to remember 16-year-old Abby Barker. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

A cross made of driftwood was erected at the Esquimalt Lagoon Wednesday in remembrance of 16-year-old Abby Barker. Barker died suddenly on Thursday from what family are saying is a suspected overdose. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

A cross made of driftwood was erected at the Esquimalt Lagoon Wednesday in remembrance of 16-year-old Abby Barker. Barker died suddenly on Thursday from what family are saying is a suspected overdose. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Just Posted

Advocates call safe drug supply a victory but worry about logistics in pandemic

Pandemic contributes to scarce supply, advocates worried about potential impact on the streets

Greater Victoria survey shows third of respondents did not pay, or partially paid rent for April

Survey of 70 respondents says 40 per cent expect they will not be able to pay May rent

Nanaimo, Royal Jubilee to be Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 frontline hospitals

Other Island hospitals will be admitting COVID-19 patients and will be used in a support role

Man charged after Langford shooting last year sentenced to 4.5 years

Justin Lemmen found guilty of firearms offenses

BC Transit extends free fare, installs vinyl barriers in some buses

Free fare will now be offered until April 30

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

75-year-old woman rescued from Cowichan Lake

Victim taken to hospital, but expected to recover

Not to become bored the game plan for COVID-19

Board game with an Island map developed by Island family just the remedy for filling time at home

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Most Read