Brother says he hopes the dark reality of the picture might help drug addicts to seek recovery
Campbell River is one of the places that drew Justin Fleming to Vancouver Island.
Today his mother and brother are following in his footsteps along the Campbell River waterfront.
They’re trying to honour his memory by enjoying the same sights that he saw in the last few years of his life.
“He loved to be out in the wilderness,” says his younger brother and only sibling Chris Fleming. “This one obviously struck him and he stuck here a long time cause he never really stayed anywhere too long.”
Fleming moved to the Island from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan several years ago.
The avid guitar player loved the outdoors and being around people.
There were happy times in Nanaimo but soon he succumbed to his old drug habit.
He wound up living on the streets. A difficult situation for his family.
“It was hard just wondering when we’d get this phone call. It was the hardest part and waiting to see if we’d hear from him again.”
Last week, his family got the phone call they had long feared.
Fleming had suffered a suspected fentanyl overdose.
BC Ambulance got him to Nanaimo Regional General but his chances of survival were minimal.
Family made the difficult to decision to remove him from life support.
Seconds after the doctor pronounced him dead his brother took this picture. He’s since shared it on social media.
“It’s a harsh reality and people need to see this,” says Fleming. “If it can save even one life it’s well worth it.”
“If that post doesn’t do anything maybe if they see how much we’re hurting,” says his mother Gaylene Lalonde. ” And they’ll think about their families and they’ll think ‘God, I don’t want them to go through this’.”
Flemings’ death is a small reminder of a much bigger problem
BC’s Coroner’s Service says 102 people in BC died of suspected drug overdoses last month alone.
Behind the epidemic lies shattered lives.
“I loved him always and he always had my back no matter what and I’m very grateful to have had him as a brother.”
And the pain and heartbreak for those they’ve left behind.