John Butler found the body of his 21-year-old daughter on Oct. 23 in her Langley City apartment. Olivia Dalton was dead from an accidental overdose of drugs laced with fentanyl.
“I went over and entered her apartment to find a dark and silent apartment with no response to my arrival,” Butler said. “My heart was already sinking. I turned the corner to find my baby girl in her robe slumped over onto the bathroom counter. The colour of her skin was a shade I had never seen before. The noise I made did not elicit her eyes to flicker open, my hand on her cheek was met by cold, and trying to lift her was met with a stiff and lifeless body.”
Less than a week later, he found himself reading a copy of the coroner’s report that said her body contained a fatal amount of fentanyl (20 to 40 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine). She was hooked on heroin but dealers are adulterating their product with anything cheap they can get their hands on and fentanyl is cheap but powerful, resulting in many accidental overdoses.
The stats will record her death as an overdose, however much she never intended it to happen, but her father calls it a deliberate poisoning by “selfish drug dealers that don’t care.”
There were 127 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in September. So far this year, 1,202 people have died from toxic drugs; toxicology results suggest there has been more cases with extreme fentanyl concentrations since April. BC Coroners Service report https://t.co/mvWuLOXYaY pic.twitter.com/RbjD2nhM3t— BCCDC (@CDCofBC) October 29, 2020
Now the 60-year-old Clayton resident and his ex-wife must plan Olivia’s funeral. In his grief, he recently put up spray-painted signs on Fraser Highway at 195th Street calling on the community to do more to prevent drug dealers from killing people. He has also taken to social media to call on people to speak out against drug dealers and let authorities know when they see drug activity. Butler has also sent out word about a support group for people who have lost children from drug overdose.
“I’ve only ever had one child, and at that moment my world died, my heart shattered, the sky fell, and my world changed forever. My baby was gone,” he said. “The last time I saw, touched, and kissed her cheek was when the paramedics wheeled my love to the morgue.”
He’s relying on his faith during this darkest of times, consoled by the thought of his child in Heaven, but Butler is not willing to turn the other cheek when it comes to the people putting fatal drugs on the streets because they don’t know nor care about the consequences.
“Whoever made and sold the dose had no idea or care about the potency or dangerous of the product they sold. They didn’t care if giving it to a child to ‘try’ would potentially hook them, and they don’t care who they harm, the children they kill, or families they destroy,” he said. “It’s not the users who are the problem, it’s the people who sell it… sell it to anyone. They are the true monsters of our society.”
He said drug dealers have become brazen, offering door to door delivery, openly selling in homeless camps, and offering samples to children to get them hooked. But he doesn’t let politicians and society in general off the hook.
Opiate deaths surpass COVID deaths, and Vancouver has a higher death rate than most USA cities, Butler said.
“Our government and politicians are doing nothing to stop it. There are no resources to stop it, and no help for the young kids taking it,” he said. “The greatest travesty of our time is our governments inaction to stop the fentanyl epidemic, and the governments inaction to have more resources to help the children dying daily from fentanyl. Premiers and our prime minister are negligent in their duty to protect our children from this epidemic.”
He’d like to see Canadians do more.
“The people need to take back our streets,” Butler said. “We need to push back, we need to report, we need to stand guard. The police can’t or aren’t effective in stopping these ruthless, selfish, animals that are taking the lives of our fathers, mothers, and children.”
Butler also wants the community to know who has died. Olivia was a 21-year-old who was trying to get her life on track. She had gone through treatment and was even working at a treatment centre for girls.
“Our pride was immense,” he said.
Olivia was in her first serious relationship and got an apartment.
She relapsed recently, was open about it and planned to get clean. She was helping girls get off heroin. But drug addiction takes away all good things in life.
“The police were being called to their apartment, holes were being punched into the walls, screaming and fighting continually and their apartment was filthy, and lead to an eviction notice on Sept 30, 2020. Her boyfriend moved out, and she lived alone until she was required to move. It was the last month of her life,” he said.
Butler talked to her about moving in with him. He was worried constantly and dropped by as much as he could or called her.
“I was always made to feel I was being paranoid and over cautious, eventually I felt more at ease as she spoke openly of relapsing and she was eager to get help and start over,” he commented.
When he couldn’t reach Olivia for their regular phone call on Oct. 22, he grew worried and at 1:30 a.m. Oct. 23, made his way to her apartment where he found his child dead.
“She was sweet by nature with a loving and caring heart,” Butler said.
Her’s wasn’t an easy life.
“Being born the type 1 diabetes and struggling in school with ADHD, fitting in and being accepted was hard for her since a young age,” he explained.
Olivia was bullied and ostracized at school, first in Richmond then in Langley when the family moved.
“She discovered her closest friends were those that used soft drugs and alcohol,” he said.
In Grade 11, she was offered heroin to try, at no charge, a common move by dealers to get more customers.
“For someone suffering from self esteem issues, insecurities, emotional pain, and bullying heroin took all her cares and concerns away,” he said. “By her third use the drug had attached to her receptors and her body physically craved it, and to attain the same original sensation she was now hook physically and emotionally. But now she needed a higher dose to achieve the original sensation. In the drug world that call it ‘chasing the dragon’, and now the drugs were not free.”
Her family saw changes in her. There was now isolation, anxiety, irritability, and anger. She stopped caring about her appearance.
“Then we started noticing the many items around the house that were missing and sold to support her habit,” Butler said.
Her family did what it could.
“My wife and I spent over $100,000 trying to save our daughter from a life that would not end well,” he said.
They thought they got their girl back, and were willing to accept the chain smoking and marijuana use because she seemed changed and saw a future for herself before it all derailed in recent weeks.
The dose she took that lonely Thursday night was more fentanyl than heroin.
“She died within 30 minutes of taking it. Alone.”
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