Qualicum Beach mother concerned about toxic drug supply after losing son

Photo courtesy of Julia Mewhort.
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A mother is concerned more people could fall victim to toxic drugs in Parksville after losing her son to fentanyl-laced drugs.

Stephen Nutt was found dead in his room at Orca Place supportive housing on Dec. 18, 2020. His mother, Julia Mewhort, found out about his passing through one of his friends.

“I didn’t believe it at first, it’s very upsetting. My son was on a waitlist for treatment,” Mewhort said. “His mental health worker even said to me that, in the weeks before he died, he was asking to go to treatment and it was being set up.”

Mewhort said when she went to Orca Place to collect her son’s belongings three days after his passing, she saw drugs still in his room.

“There on the table, with the manager [of Orca Place] in the room with us, there was a spoon with white powder, a pipe and tinfoil,” she said, adding the image haunts her.

Oceanside RCMP received the call of a sudden death and attended the scene, according to Cpl. Jesse Foreman. He said the death was not suspicious, so the investigation was taken over by the coroner. 

Mewhort hoped to see an investigation into the toxic drug supply. She said she is concerned the drugs may have come from another resident at Orca Place, but this could not be confirmed. Foreman said the RCMP are not investigating the matter.

“He didn’t OD, he was poisoned by consuming drugs that were laced,” she said. “They [coroner’s office] also said he suffered respiratory distress, so basically he would have not been able to breath and would have died and he died alone, in his room, on his floor.”

Oceanside News made multiple attempts to contact the management at Orca Place for a comment before publication.

Mewhort said she wants to see more services available for people in situations like her son’s. “I am worried about other people — I am worried that there are other people that are going to die,” she said.

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