‘This is just horrid’: Five people die from overdoses in just over nine hours in Abbotsford

‘Yesterday, we lost five citizens, and family and friends lost five loved ones’

Three men and two women died from drug overdoses in just over nine hours in Abbotsford Friday.

Three were in homes, one in an outreach centre and the fifth was found slumped against a wall next to a business. At least two were found by family members.

All five died alone.

The victims range in age from 40 to 67.

“This is just horrid,” said Const. Ian MacDonald, with the Abbotsford Police Department.

“I’ve been doing this gig for eight and a half years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

MacDonald has previously issued stark warnings about batches of drugs mixed with fentanyl and carfentanil. He’s raised the alarm when there have been fewer than five fatalities in a week.

READ: Interior Health issues illicit drug alert after spike of overdoses in B.C.

He said the ages of the dead and the fact they died alone will hopefully help to break some stereotypes about the opioid crisis and whom it affects.

“Yesterday, we lost five citizens, and family and friends lost five loved ones,” MacDonald wrote in a press release.

More than 1,000 people have died from overdoses in B.C. this year. That number continues to grow, despite hard-fought efforts to save lives.

The overdose reversing drug naloxone has saved countless lives in Abbotsford.

“…Think of what the numbers would be like without naloxone,” MacDonald said.

“People are being revived multiple times in a week and so whatever the number is, I would argue you can put an asterisk beside that because we have, in no way shape or form, figured our way out of this crisis. And so whatever that number is going to be, it is going to be bigger tomorrow.”

And public warnings can only go so far, when entrenched drug users already know the danger, but continue to use, he said. It’s not as easy as simply telling someone to stop.

“You and I both know that’s not going to happen. We issue these warnings with, certainly, the hope to create awareness among the entrenched users. We hope to a certain degree, cards on the table, to scare people away from trying or experimenting and we hope to inform that middle group of occasional users that it’s particularly hot out there right now.

“But really, we are just trying to do whatever we can to stick our finger in the dike.”

MacDonald said he urges anyone planning to use not to do so alone and to reduce their dose, as it appears yet another “toxic batch” of drugs are circulating in Abbotsford.

He said that these deaths also have a heavy toll on the first responders — police, ambulance and firefighters — who respond to these calls. It’s possible, he said, that a single shift that started at 7 a.m. responded to all five deaths Friday.

“That’s a lot of notifications of next of kin and it’s a lot of trauma for friends, family, and first-responders.”

MacDonald said that police are increasing their patrols of known areas frequented by drug users but that if people are using alone indoors, that won’t help to prevent more similar deaths today.

“It’s not like it’s fruitless to do that. We need to do that. It’s just harder to get into those places where today, or tomorrow, or the next week, people are once again potentially going to be using on their own,” he said. “So all we can do is keep hitting that air-raid siren and let people know this is what’s going on and we have to, even though we’re going to have more patrol resources, we’re going to have way more drug squad officers out there trying to pro-actively warn people. We still have to hope — this is where the leap comes in — that people are going to heed the warning and at least make some adjustments.”

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

Just Posted

IHIT names homicide victim found in the Fraser Canyon this week

Police asking for tips into the suspicious death of 29-year-old Alicia Berg

Braun says Abbotsford Police ‘first-class,’ but not perfect

Abbotsford mayor says protests ‘rooted in years of systemic racism’

Mission School District’s 2020 graduation ceremony plans now in place

June grad for École Mission Senior Secondary, Fraserview Learning Centre, Riverside College

Abbotsford demonstration slated for Friday afternoon

People gathering to protest police brutality and systemic racism in downtown Abbotsford

Chilliwack RCMP heard gunfire en route to suspicous activity

Chilliwack man, 42, sent to hospital after shooting, RCMP have confirmed

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

IHIT investigating ‘suspicious’ death of Surrey man

Officers found the body while on foot patrol: Surrey RCMP

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Kelowna Mountie on desk duty following ‘aggressive’ arrest

The officer involved in an arrest that took place on May 30 in Kelowna has been placed on administrative duties

Most Read