Fentanyl laced drugs claims another life in Kamloops

By Jessica Lepp
February 12, 2016 - 2:03pm Updated: February 16, 2016 - 11:09am

KAMLOOPS  — There have been at least two confirmed fentanyl overdose deaths since the New Year in Kamloops.

Yesterday CFJC Today  brought you the heartbreaking tale of 22 year Ryan Pinneo who was found dead in his home after overdosing on fentanyl.

Today, we bring you another story of a life taken too soon by a deadly drug that is becoming ever present on our streets.

WATCH ABOVE: Full story by Reporter Jessica Lepp

Lance Ritchie was a passionate outdoorsman.

The loving uncle to two enjoyed fishing, camping, hiking and dirt biking.

“He loved World War II and history. He'd watch the History Channel for hours on end and loved talking about history,” says Lance's sister Shannon Ritchie.

At first glance one wouldn't recognize the internal battle this passionate young man was fighting since his childhood.

Lance was addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Shannon says, “It really became serious after high school. He went to rehab in his early twenties. In the latter years of his life, alcohol was his demon.”

But on January 16, Lance's life came to a tragic end.

He went on a blind date, had a couple of drinks, and before going to sleep that night he popped what he thought was Oxycontin.

He never woke up again.

“The coroner's report said there was alcohol and other things in his system, but the dose of fentanyl was so strong it would've killed him with nothing else in his system,” says Shannon.

B.C.'s Health Minister Terry Lake says, “it's tragic. I have children of similar age. To think you would lose a child to a horrible overdose of a drug that is so powerful, and they're taking it unknowingly.”

Lake calls fentanyl-laced drugs a growing concern province-wide, with 450 deaths last year. Up to 30 per cent of those involved fentanyl.

“What I understand is we're seeing fentanyl come from China through organized crime. There are pill presses being set up here in B.C. and then these terrible people are selling this on the street, knowing how dangerous it is,” says Lake.

Lance will always be remembered as a compassionate son, brother and uncle, but also as a life taken too soon.

And because of the growing trend of fentanyl-laced drugs, Lance's sister is raising awareness, hoping the message might save a life.

“He got a bad drug is all we can think of it, and it's unfortunate. We just hope the word gets out there that this is happening and we need to be more open about it and communicate about it.”

Name changes approved for two Kamloops schools