One week after death of Jeffrey Canuel, his family waits for answers

One week after death of Jeffrey Canuel, his family waits for answers

The final conversation Ken Canuel had with his younger brother Jeffrey was a light-hearted text exchange.

Jeffrey, 26, was on a night out with friends in Vancouver last Sunday night. He'd gone to a couple of bars and was in a good mood.

The two brothers typed casual catch-up notes.

The next afternoon, Canuel, 32, was devastated to learn that Jeffrey had been found dead near a park bench at the corner of Cambie Street and 2nd Avenue. 

Nearly a week later, Canuel and his family still don't know how Jeffrey died. An autopsy report was inconclusive.

"Did he die of an overdose? Did he take something? Did someone spike his drink?" Canuel asked.

"Everything is running through our heads."

Toxicology delay

And now they've been told that toxicology tests, which previously took between three and four weeks, might not be available for up to four months.

The family was told by the BC Coroners Service that the wait was due to a backlog caused by the opioid crisis.

Canuel, who lives in Chilliwack, said the family wants answers about Jeffrey's death. If toxicology labs are backed up due to the opioid crisis, then more staff should be hired, he said.

"Is the next family going to have to wait six months, seven months?"

Canuel said he finds it hard to believe that his brother suffered a drug overdose. He was a happy, outgoing person and there was no history of mental illness.

He said his younger brother, who worked in an auto-parts warehouse, loved to take hours-long walks, rain or shine.

Cellphone still missing

Sunday night, Jeffrey played cards at a bar on West Hastings Street, then went to another bar with a co-worker.

That friend suggested the two take the bus home together to New Westminster, but Jeffrey wanted to go back to the bar to resume the card game.

He called another roommate around midnight but he was asleep and did not pick up. Canuel was not heard from again.

​A witness who saw him Monday morning called first responders, but efforts to resuscitate him but were unsuccessful.

Canuel was found with $20 on him plus a bank card and a transit card. His phone remains missing.

The co-worker said Jeffrey Canuel was drinking Sunday night, but in good spirits,

His brother said he last texted Jeffrey at about 8.45 p.m. PT, asking if was planning another "epic" walk soon.

Vancouver police and the BC Coroners Service did not immediately respond to requests for interviews.