Hardy and Amelia Leighton were found dead in their home on July 20, shocking family members and leaving a lot of unanswered questions behind. The couple, both in their 30s, also left behind their toddler, Magnus, as reported by CBC News.
The Leightons, who were referred to as “good kids from a good family” by family members, were celebrating an upcoming move from their apartment complex to a larger home with a yard for Magnus. By all accounts, they were just a young family, making good strides in their life — not the people you’d expect to die of a drug overdose. They were people you’d think would know better.
A coroner’s report revealed that the Leightons died after ingesting toxic levels of fentanyl. The death is tragic, but it follows a growing trend of deaths linked to the lethal drug. Deaths related to fentanyl overdose have risen 25 per cent in the past three years in British Columbia, and 80 per cent of those deaths were caused by mixed drugs.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, generally used as a high-strength painkiller for cancer patients, is often added to other drugs, like heroine, on the streets. It can increase the potency of other drugs, but it can be lethal when not used appropriately, particularly for people with a low tolerance for opioid use. The drug is 100 times more potent than morphine. Its effects are nearly instant, killing users without warning.
It’s unclear whether the Leightons knew they were consuming fentanyl or if it was added to other drugs they were taking. They may not have been aware of the fatal consequences of the drug, but their deaths should serve as a powerful reminder that drugs in any quantity can be fatal. Street drugs are made by people in makeshift drug labs, not chemists who understand the potential deadly outcomes when certain substances are mixed. Users may never know what has been added to drugs they are consuming.
The Leightons’ decision to celebrate with recreational drugs is something their son will have to deal with for the rest of his life. Their death also proves that there is no “type” of drug user. The Leightons probably did know better, but that didn’t stop them, and if they could, I imagine they’d do anything in their power to go back to that night and celebrate in a completely different way. If anything good can come of their deaths, it’s an awareness of how toxic drug use can be and how even recreational use, just for fun, by people with good jobs and a happy family, can still kill. If one less child is orphaned because of their story, it will be progress.
Family members have set up a fundraiser to help Magnus move forward without his parents.