‘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.”

Just Posted

People sound off about shelter in Maple Ridge

BC Housing though said it will follow the rezoning process

Head lice making the rounds across SD42

Head lice specialist Darlene Miller says it is all about containment and early detection

Putting on the Glitz is a grassroots initiative

High school graduation is an important milestone in many people’s lives. However… Continue reading

Pitt Meadows councillors don’t support rail underpass

Gateway projects will need city support says MP Ruimy

People can now sleep at night on Katzie reserve in Pitt Meadows

Peace and quiet now predominate after gates blocked off to outsiders

Amsler has three-point night in the BCHL

First goal for Ridge Meadows hockey prospect

Rock slide closes Hwy. 1 south of Ashcroft until Friday afternoon

A rock slide Thursday afternoon near Spences Bridge closed the highway in both directions

WestJet appeals lost bid to scrap harassment lawsuit

Airline argues judge was wrong to have dismissed the company’s application to strike the legal action

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here’s how

Secretary of homeland security explains a new policy that let’s border guards check phones

‘Beautiful writer’ Nancy Richler dies of cancer in Vancouver hospital

Montreal-born author spent most of her adult life in B.C. as a fiction writer and novelist

B.C. commuters vote to rename bus service to ‘Jeff’

The company asked and the people of Facebook answered

Students frustrated by UBCO response to harassment allegations

Students on the Kelowna campus were unaware of resources and worried about lack of communication

Sexsmith set to suit up for Giants

Vancouver signs ninth overall pick in 2017 WHL bantam draft

Women’s March Canada Fraser Valley slated for Saturday morning

It’s a march for women’s rights and social justice for the most marginalized

Most Read