A 19-year-old man died accidentally after smoking fentanyl in a bong using a blow torch causing this car fire in a Chilliwack parking lot on Dec. 1, 2017. (Chilliwack Progress file)

Death of 19-year-old killed in dramatic Chilliwack car fire ruled ‘accidental’

Victim found with fentanyl in his system, bong and propane torch in front seat

The BC Coroners Service says the death of a young man in a dramatic car fire in Chilliwack in 2017 was an accident involving fentanyl, a bong, and a blow torch.

There was much speculation after the blaze in what was then the downtown Safeway parking lot in the early hours of Dec. 1, 2017.

The first assumption was that it was a crime scene because a large portion of the parking lot was taped off for several hours as the Chilliwack Fire Department and RCMP investigated.

When the Chilliwack RCMP reported they were no longer investigating, and the BC Coroners Service said the name of the dead man would not be released, many people presumed it was a suicide.

But the findings by coroner Kimberly Isbister released to The Chilliwack Progress on Aug. 6, 2020 found the classification of death to be accidental, and the immediate cause of death to be “inhalation of products of combustion and thermal injuries” due to a car fire, with acute fentanyl intoxication a “significant condition contributing to death.”

The Progress has agreed to not reveal the name of the 19-year-old man out of respect for the family.

It was at approximately 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 1, 2017 when the man dropped his fiancée off at work, according to the coroner’s report. Family reported that he intended to stop at a grocery store, which was halfway between her work and his home.

At approximately 7 a.m., the Chilliwack Fire Department responded to the vehicle fire. Upon extinguishing the fire, the body of the young man was found in the driver seat. A small propane tank with a blowtorch attachment was on the passenger seat and a bong was found in his lap.

“There was no evidence of foul play and no indication that [the man] intended to end his life on this day or in this manner,” Isbister found.

Apparently, the man was using the blowtorch to heat the bong, became unresponsive after inhaling the substance and dropped the blowtorch igniting the fire. A toxicology report found fentanyl detected “within a range where therapeutic and lethal concentrations overlap.” He did not have a prescription for fentanyl.

A large paragraph in the coroner’s report is redacted concluding only with this sentence: “There were no reported mental health issues and no history of suicidal ideations.”

“I classify this death as accidental and make no recommendations,” the coroner concluded.

• READ MORE: Young man killed in dramatic car fire downtown Chilliwack


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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The RCMP Forensics Identification Unit was on the scene Friday morning after a car fire in the Safeway parking lot downtown Chilliwack.

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