A B.C. Coroners Service inquest into the illicit-drug overdose death of Oak Bay teen Elliot Cleveland Eurchuk will begin on Monday with testimony from the teen’s parents.
The inquest was announced in March to review the circumstances of Eurchuk’s accidental drug-overdose death on April 20, 2018. His occurred during an ongoing opioid-death epidemic.
Presiding coroner Michael Egilson, chair of the Child Death Review Unit for the Office of the Chief Coroner, and a five-person jury will hear evidence from more than 30 witnesses starting at 9:30 a.m. at the University of Victoria in the dispute-resolution room in the Fraser Building. The jury is expected to make recommendations to prevent deaths in similar circumstances.
The first witnesses will be mother Rachel Staples, a dentist, and father Brock Eurchuk, a businessman. The Oak Bay couple have two other children.
Other witnesses are expected to include a pathologist, toxicologist, medical doctors, police officers from Oak Bay and Saanich and West Shore, school officials from Oak Bay and Saanich, a psychologist and psychiatrist, youth workers, Island Health officials and a public health expert.
Brock Eurchuk said he suffers post-traumatic stress disorder from the cirumstances surrounding his son’s death. He has seen multiple counsellors about his inconsolable grief.
Painkillers prescribed before and after surgery for sports-related injuries and unreasonable waits for diagnostic tests led Elliot Eurchuk, 16 when he died, to an addiction that was eventually fed with street drugs, his parents say.
Brock Eurchuk blames and second guesses himself for what he did and didn’t do to help his son. But he also blames the health and education systems.
Staples said the inquest is no longer about her son — “he’s gone now” — but rather about trying to ensure no other child suffers the way her son did.
The couple want an overhaul of the B.C. Infants Act, which says anyone under the age of 19 can consent to their own medical care if a health-care provider agrees with the treatment and assesses the patient as competent to understand the risks and benefits. This allowed Elliot to dictate his own prescribed drug regime and to bar his parents from seeing his medical records.
Elliot was found dead in his bedroom and tests later found cocaine, fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine in his body.
His parents have lobbied for an inquest, most recently with the assistance of lawyer Michael Scherr and former B.C. children and youth representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond.