Local police raise drug warning as New West school district launches critical response plan
By Carlos Bilan, Staff Writer
On May 27, the New Westminster police department issued an urgent warning that a lethal strain of drug is circulating New Westminster.
“One person has died from the unknown drug and another is in critical condition,” said a press release from the New Westminster Police. “Both individuals purchased the drug in pill form from the same street drug dealer.”
The victim has been identified as a 16-year-old. Another girl of the same age has also been hospitalized and was in critical condition after taking the same drug according to CTV News. Both attended the same school.
Sergeant Jeff Scott said in the press release that “the community should be concerned,” and “drug users who don’t feel well are advised to seek medical attention immediately.”
CBC Vancouver reports that the “students took drugs which were sold as MDMA but contained a mixture of unknown drugs.”
Sergeant Scott said to Global News that “this raises a number of different concerns for us, the first being that there’s a lethal drug circulating […] and we don’t know what that drug is.”
The New Westminster school district has launched a critical incident response plan involving extra staff and grief counsellors being present in order to help students cope with the news that a student died of an overdose and another was hospitalized.
The New Westminster school district has also held a community event earlier this month in order to raise awareness of the ongoing drug epidemic.
“We have been concerned, as are many school districts, about the current overdose crisis,” the school district said in the press release. “We fully recognize that students and staff will need support at this devastating time. The tragedy we face underscores the importance that we must continue to work together to provide support in all areas from prevention and early intervention to harm reduction and treatment options.”
The school district also offered their “heartfelt condolences” to the families, those who have known the student, and to those who have been affected.
Sergeant Andrew Perry said to CBC News that “people using drugs, or in the presence of drug users, should never hesitate to call 911 if something goes wrong.” Perry emphasized: “Police aren’t going to arrest you.”
The New Westminster police advise those with information regarding the case to call them at 604-525-5411.