Kyle Jansen was working on finishing his carpentry apprenticeship and planning a future with his common-law wife. But the world of drugs never quite let go of him, a grip that proved fatal after the 30-year-old was stabbed in what appears to be a drug deal gone wrong.
“I want to remember the man that he could be, not the man that he was because the drug addiction took hold,” father David Jansen said Tuesday, after flying in from Ontario to help prepare for Jansen’s funeral today.
Jansen’s family — his father, mother, brother and spouse — can’t quite make sense of what happened. They each got a phone call that Jansen had been stabbed in the leg near Station Road and Jacklin Avenue in Langford on Jan. 14 about 5:15 p.m., roughly a block from the condo he shared with his common-law spouse, Ann-Marie Livingston. But they assumed he would recover.
“I look at it as a horrible freak accident,” Livingston said. She was told that the stab wound struck a main artery in his leg.
Paramedics couldn’t stop the bleeding and by the time Jansen got to Victoria General Hospital, he was almost brain dead and his vital organs were shutting down. Emergency surgery was unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at 7:20 a.m. on Jan. 15.
Livingston was in Saskatoon at the time and got a call in the middle of the night.
She got on the first flight that morning back to Victoria, but she was too late to see Jansen before he died.
“I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to him,” she said. “I’m totally heartbroken.”
Jansen was born in Sparwood and when he was five years old, his family moved to Powell River, where he spent most of his childhood. He and his brother Justin, older by two years, spent summers riding their bikes down to a pond, ice-cream buckets in hand to catch frogs and snakes.
His father remembers one birthday party where Jansen, his friends and their dads had their pants rolled up, wading through the pond to catch reptiles.
Jansen had a cheeky sense of humour and had a nickname for every one of his friends, his brother said.
When Jansen’s parents, Betty and David, separated in early 2000, both brothers moved to Vancouver with their mother. It was there that both began to struggle with drug addiction.
Jansen and his brother spent more than a year living on the streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Justin Jansen eventually moved to Ottawa, where his father was living, to get clean and pleaded with his brother to do the same.
Jansen struggled for about another year, but it was when he met Livingston online six years ago that things started to turn around. He moved to Victoria to be with her and tried to be a good role model for Livingston’s son. Jansen was in the construction business and was aiming to finish his carpentry apprenticeship at Camosun College.
“If he decided he was going to make something, he never stopped until he accomplished what he wanted to do,” his father said.
Livingston remembers their trip to Cuba, a weekend camping trip in Bamfield and many trips to the PNE in Vancouver.
Jansen was trying to re-connect with his First Nations heritage and was in the process of getting his Indian status.
Last April, Jansen was excited to land a unionized job with a respected contracting company. He and Livingston started making big plans for the future. But two weeks later he was laid off.
Livingston said it was amid this frustration and financial worry that Jansen went back to dealing drugs. He was out on bail for drug trafficking at the time of his death.
“I know he wanted to be out of that lifestyle but he’s had so many setbacks,” said Justin Jansen. “It was hard not to fall back into what he knew.”
David Jansen said he wants to remember the positive times in his son’s life. “I want people to see the other side of my son.”
“He definitely did have his difficulties and he had a battle but he had very many happy times in his life and he’s been robbed of having very many more,” said his mother, Betty Jansen. “It’s going to haunt us, we’re going to have to go through a trial. We’re not going to have closure for quite some time.”
Livingston believes Jansen was the victim of a drug-related robbery that turned violent. She wonders if more than one person was involved, since Jansen suffered extensive injuries including a black eye, a fat lip and a stab wound to his forearm.
Witnesses told police they saw Jansen getting out of a 1994 grey Ford Explorer driven by a woman. The vehicle has been located and seized as evidence but police have not said how the woman is involved.
Daniel Thomas Phelps, 29, is charged with manslaughter for the death and is in custody. Livingston said she does not know Phelps.
A celebration of life for Jansen takes place at 2 p.m. today at St. John the Baptist Heritage Church at 537 Glencairn Lane in Colwood.