Friend of teen who died from overdose paints grim picture of drug use

The night before he died, Elliot Eurchuk and a friend snorted lines of fentanyl-laced heroin on the grounds of Esquimalt High School, a coroner’s inquest heard on Wednesday.

Both teens would eventually go home with their share of the remaining two grams of heroin, and go to bed. About midnight Elliot’s friend woke from a blackout just long enough to shoot himself with the overdose-reversing drug Narcan and survive.

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Elliot was not as lucky. He was found unresponsive April 20, 2018, in his bedroom about 7:30 a.m. He had been dead for up to four hours, paramedic Douglas Harwood testified.

Testimony from three of Elliot’s friends painted a grim picture of drug use that progressed from experimenting with marijuana and prescription drugs to injecting fentanyl-laced street drugs on schoolgrounds.

All the while, they were aware of the deadly consequences.

Brock Eurchuk, Eliott’s father, called the revelation of the breadth and depth of drug use by his son and his friends “a bombshell.”

There is a publication ban on the youths’ identities.

“By Grade 11, I’d say I was dependent on opioids and Elliot did it just as much as me,” a friend testified. “In Grade 11 we started injecting the drugs and quickly after that we started doing heroin. … We would do it at school — really whenever we could or had drugs.”

At gatherings, they traded or shared drugs but did not sell them, he said.

Drugs were bought for as little as $5 in downtown Victoria. Heroin was purchased from Switzerland through the dark web using Bitcoin, a digital currency, and delivered to Victoria.

Elliot learned to inject drugs when he gave his mother her daily chemotherapy drugs as she battled breast cancer. He then taught his friend.

Elliot was the knowledgable one who knew how to “mine Bitcoin” and researched all the drugs, his friend said. “Elliot kept me out of everything so my habits wouldn’t progress. He knew if I was able to do all that stuff I wouldn’t be alive today.”

Death was a common topic of conversations, he said. “We knew what we were doing and the chances we were taking every time we did heroin and that we would most likely end up dead.

“It was just kind of accepted,” said Elliot’s friend, “especially after his overdose in the hospital.”

After Elliot’s death, his friend swore off drugs. But then, six grams of heroin that Elliot had ordered via the internet, for delivery to the friend’s home, arrived in the mail. He took it as “a sign from Elliot” to enjoy it in his memory. “[Elliot] was dead at that point and I had no one to share it with and so I did it all.”

But afterwards, he realized to maintain his habit he would have to resort to more and cheaper street drugs.

“At that point I realized I didn’t want to die and went to the youth clinic and got [opioid substitute] Suboxone,” he testified.

It helped that his parents realized the extent of his drug use after Saanich police investigating Elliot’s death warned parents about a possible bad batch of drugs.

Elliot’s friend went to Foundry Victoria, where youth can get help for addiction issues, and to Discovery Youth and Family Substance Use Services for counselling.

“I’m sober a year and graduating so I’m doing good. I’m surviving,” said the teen.

On the night before Elliot’s death, Oak Bay police were called to end a party across the street from his home.

Elliot snuck out of his home and met up with friends who were leaving.

“It wasn’t his normal personality I saw that night,” a female friend testified of Elliot’s demeanor. He was agitated and he’s usually happy and fun, she said.

Neighbour Jill Forrester, who owns the home in which the party was held, said Elliot complained he had a math test the next day and couldn’t sleep because of the noise.

She testified by telephone over a speaker that Elliot was acting uncharacteristically agitated and stiffened when she hugged him. She knew something was wrong. Through tears, she said she should have called his parents or police.

“I will regret that forever.”

Elliot was among about eight teens who then went to Cattle Point. They did doughnuts in a car and generally goofed around, said his female friend.

Elliot asked for a ride home. But his friend was a new driver and had more people in the car than novice licensing allowed.

She left him at the top of Cattle Point.

Before they drove away, Elliot leaned in to give each of three girls a hug and told each of them he loved them.

At 1 or 2 a.m. Elliot sent a text to the friend with whom he had consumed heroin to say he was excited about meeting him at the gym the next day.

“So I don’t believe he had any intent on dying that night,” the friend testified.

The inquest continues.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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