'Living a nightmare': North Okanagan mom grieves 15-year-old son's overdose death | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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'Living a nightmare': North Okanagan mom grieves 15-year-old son's overdose death

Draeyden Gregersen was just 15 years old when he died of a suspected drug overdose.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED: Donna Gregersen

In early April, Donna Gregersen's 15-year-old son died in a house in Enderby.

While a toxicology report hasn't yet confirmed it, Gregersen knows her son, Draeyden, died of a drug overdose.

"It's like you're living a nightmare," Gregersen said.

Draeyden died in an alleged, but well-known drug house.

Gregersen describes her son as loving and thoughtful.

"He was always thinking about how to express his love to his loved ones," she said.

Draeyden was very athletic and a huge sports fan.

"He was also busy, a very busy boy and very fearless," Gregersen said. "(He) played outside his limits, he'd always climb to the top of the playground." "He was always the boy we had to work very hard to keep in line."

Academically, Gregersen says Draeyden was very smart, but the death of three close family members when he was 12 years old changed him.

"He started running away from home," Gregersen said. "It started out slowly, he'd run away from home... to his friends and I could easily track him down."

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But Draeyden's behaviour got more brazen.

"He started not going to those places, and finding street kids and the bad kids to hang out with," she said. "For the last three years, it was constantly me chasing him."

He started becoming involved in a criminal lifestyle and ended up in youth detention several times.

He was sent by the court to a trapping camp in northern B.C. and Draeyden got sober and was doing well. However, back in the Okanagan, he fell back into bad habits.

"I tried to take my son home many times but he's a big boy," she said. "It just doesn't work like that."

Draeyden Gregersen.
Draeyden Gregersen.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED: Donna Gregersen

Ultimately, the Ministry of Ministry of Children and Family Development got involved and took over his guardianship.

She met him for lunch on one occasion and noticed he was very thin and had open soars on his body – a sign he was using crystal meth.

Gregersen questions how, if the state was supposed to be looking after her 15-year-old son, he was allowed to die from what she says was certainly a drug overdose.

In a statement to iNFOnews.ca, the Ministry said it could not comment on or confirm involvement with any individual or family due to confidentiality. The Ministry did say that in all cases where there is a death of a youth in care, it would conduct a case review.

Gregersen strongly believes the system needs changing.

She said Draeyden reached out to her several times saying he was using drugs and needed help. She'd book appointments at places that could help but he never showed up.

"Me and my son throughout all this craziness were always very close," she said.

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Over the last decade, illicit drug deaths in British Columbia have increased 10 fold.

Last year, 2,232 people lost their lives due to illicit drug deaths. In 2012, that number was 270.

While the majority of drug deaths involve adults, the rate of youths dying from drug overdoses is increasing.

The statistics are difficult to understand, but the number of under 19 year olds that have died from illicit drug overdoses has doubled in the last two years.

In 2020, there were 1.9 per 100,000 drug deaths in B.C. for those under 19 years old, in 2021 that number jumped to 3.2 and was at 3.9 already by the end of February 2022.

Across all age groups in Enderby alone eight people died from drugs deaths in 2021, one of the highest per capita in the province.

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Gregersen knows something must be done.

"I would like to have ideas from the youth about what they think they need," she said. "They want to be heard too."

Gregersen said people need to realize that teenagers close themselves off from adults and don't speak openly.

"That's what they do at that age, they shut down, they don't open up," she said. "They need connections, that's what's very important for those kids to have... healthy connections."

While there are still some unanswered questions surrounding Draeyden's death, Gregersen is determined change has to come from her son's death, so stop others from falling through the cracks.

"Everybody always said, 'he's going to become something one day' and that's what I was just telling myself, 'he's going to do things and he's going to help people,'"" she said.

Unfortunately, Draeyden never got that chance.

Draeyden Gregersen.
Draeyden Gregersen.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED: Donna Gregersen

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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