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Parents refute University of Victoria’s comments about daughter’s death

Sidney McIntyre-Starko died of fentanyl poisoning in January
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Sidney McIntyre-Starko died of a preventable overdose. Her parents have asked for a coroner’s inquest into her death and it was granted by B.C. Premier David Eby. (Photo Submitted/Sidneyshouldbehere.ca)

The University of Victoria issued a statement promising changes following the death of 18-year-old Sidney McIntyre-Starko, but her parents, Dr. Caroline McIntyre and Kenton Starko, are disputing some of the university’s comments.

McIntyre-Starko died after an accidental overdose from fentanyl poisoning, where security staff responded to reports of an unconscious person and did not administer CPR or provide naloxone promptly.

In the initial story published by Black Press Media, the family had not responded to a request for an interview before the story went to press.

READ MORE: Lessons learnt at University of Victoria after Sidney McIntyre-Starko overdose

The University of Victoria emailed Black Press Media on May 17,outlining the events of Jan. 23, 2024, and the changes made following McIntyre-Starko’s death.

In that email, the university praised the security guards’ actions and said they had provided life-saving first aid to McIntyre-Starko.

Dr. McIntyre, an emergency room physician in Vancouver, disputes that praise, stating in a letter on June 4 to Black Press Media that her daughter did not receive CPR for 12 minutes and chest compressions only began 20 seconds before emergency services arrived.

The family said that a meeting had taken place on April 2 with university president Kevin Hall and Christina Harris, executive director of the Office of the President, to discuss the events surrounding the death of their daughter.

At this meeting, the family shared the full details of the events surrounding Jan. 23 with the university. Dr. McIntyre stated that eight weeks after the meeting on April 2, outside of generic emails, there had been no contact from the university.

“We are reviewing everything we heard from you and appreciate your emails. We will meet with senior leaders and be back in touch when we have information to share,” said an email from the university.

“Though we know that we can’t understand the magnitude of your grief, we would like to share our condolences once again — and our commitment to proactively engage in reflecting on and learning from this tragedy.”

The next correspondence the family said they received would be via the press release sent to Black Press Media, which they say included an incorrect timeline of events.

A timeline has been provided by the family that outlines a different set of events that surrounded McIntyre-Starko’s death.

READ MORE: Detailed Timeline

The province told the parents that a coroner’s inquest into their daughter’s death would be conducted in 2025.

The McIntyre-Starko family is demanding mandatory CPR and naloxone training in B.C. high schools, free nasal naloxone at all campuses, mandatory harm reduction in school and university orientations, notification to public health about opioid-related overdoses, and a review of the medical response from B.C. universities.

A letter from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to the family on May 24 said that her office is dedicated to advocating these measures and will closely monitor the response. It also noted that she was particularly distressed at the inconsistencies in education about the toxic drug crises and access to naloxone in post-secondary institutions that were identified.

For support, contact the Vancouver Island Crisis Line at 1-888-494-3888 or 911.

To find out more visit sidneyshouldbehere.ca.

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About the Author: Thomas Eley

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