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McNABB d@ca.on.grey_county.owen_sound.the_sun_times 2004-12-29 published
Gavin's story
By Scott DUNN, Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Gavin SIEGRIST died a junkie's death in someone's bathroom in the middle of the night on Owen Sound's west side.
The 21-year-old had been dealing drugs, running up huge debts and scrambling to get them paid.
He was beaten up a week before he died.
There are some dangerous people involved in Owen Sound's drug scene. They beat people up and have guns, Gavin's dad, Rick SIEGRIST, says.
Gavin's parents learned of threats they themselves faced because of Gavin's “friends.&rdquo
About 4 a.m. on October 1, Gavin was discovered on the toilet in Mike COX's bathroom, either dead or near death.
COX and Justin BEASLEY moved Gavin out when COX's mother needed to get in. Gavin was a guest that night. He'd stayed there before.
BEASLEY believed Gavin had a pulse, said COX, who doubted it because Gavin was “cold as stone and he wasn't moving.&rdquo
COX called Gavin's parents almost an hour after finding him. Gavin's mother recalls them saying something was wrong with her son.
She suggested shaking him and asked sarcastically “Is he dead?&rdquo
COX wasn't sure. She told him to call 911.
Paramedics worked on Gavin, but it was too late. COX overheard one of them estimate the time of death at midnight, but Gavin's mother has spoken to someone Gavin phoned at about 1: 30 a.m.
COX had kicked Gavin out about 10 p.m. when Gavin produced a syringe.
“What the... do you think you're doing with that? You think you're going to poke right here”? COX said he told Gavin.
“Well I guess not,” Gavin replied before leaving.
But COX allowed Gavin back into his house about 10: 30 p.m. because Gavin pleaded no one else would let him in that time of night. BEASLEY, who was with Gavin, surfed the Net while COX says he slept.
COX said he had a faint suspicion something bad would happen that night, but he said he was being responsible by going to bed early to be ready for work the next morning.
“Something was wrong around that time of night. We didn't know, but I had to go to sleep and finish my responsibilities, wake up and go to work again.&rdquo
According to the coroner, there was cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines and barbiturates in Gavin's system when he died.
One doctor said he died sitting up, another said he died lying down.
Gavin's body was moved, which could explain the conflicting findings. The toxicology report is due soon.
“The eye-witness accounts say that he was poking (injecting) cocaine,” said Gavin's mother, Jenniffer SIEGRIST.
COX said Gavin had a lot on his mind.
“He got into selling and dealing. He owed a lot of people money and then he didn't owe people money, so he was always doing something.&rdquo
He and Gavin smoked marijuana but the needles surprised him, said COX.
“He never let on, Okay? He never let on. He knew what he was doing.&rdquo
Owen Sound police Det.-Const. Peter DANIELS said people who were at COX's home saw Gavin inject himself with cocaine several times. He wouldn't be specific about who the witnesses: are, citing privacy laws.
DANIELS' investigation never did pinpoint exactly how much time passed before someone called for help. “Let's just say there's no indication of a significant delay.&rdquo
People in the house told him they called for help immediately. There was no evidence of drugs in the house but Gavin's backpack did contain a kit with syringes, a “cooking” spoon and water.
It's not clear when Gavin started shooting up, but his Friends think it was no more than a couple of months before he died. His abuse of street or prescription drugs or both could have gone back years.
Jessica CORDY, 17, was Gavin's girlfriend for almost two years -- until December, 2003, nine months before his death.
She insists his drug use, aside from marijuana, began after they broke up. In May or June he told her he knew how to get morphine and that he was dealing it. He didn't say he had a prescription for it, which she has since learned he did. In mid-July he talked about dealing OxyContin, but showed no signs of using it.
When she learned he had ecstasy around the end of July, she said she told him off.
“What are you getting into this pill crap. You're not doing them, are you?” she recalled saying.
He said he was just selling.
She said she never saw him take any for himself.
Gavin lost a job at a gas bar at the end of August and “that's when he started to do the chemicals and everything,” CORDY said.
Two days before he died she confronted him, asking what he was shooting up. He'd admitted trying heroin, morphine and OxyContin, which he told her was synthetic heroin. “He said he couldn't go without it and that was only two days before he died.
“It just really doesn't make any sense to me how quickly he died. Because I can't understand how I know people who have been poking up for years and they're not even close to dying. He just happened to be into it for a couple of months, then he died,” CORDY said.
“I wish that I would have said something like stop dealing this stuff, but I can't keep asking myself why because it will kill me.&rdquo
Friends and family did try to warn Gavin, but the drugs had taken hold of him.
In the tunnel vision of an addict, Gavin thought things were looking up, said Nick McNABB, a 23-year-old friend since high school who considered Gavin like a brother.
Gavin was “on a perfect winning streak, man. He had 300 bucks in his pocket, a certain amount of chawch or whatever you want to call it (cocaine) in his backpack. He was looking up hardcore, man.&rdquo
They would toke up together but to McNABB, Gavin's use of the needles was a devastating turn.
McNABB, who grew up on a Desboro farm after being adopted, grew furious with his friend's needle use.
Three days before SIEGRIST overdosed, McNABB knocked him to the ground and demanded to know what he was thinking.
“You want me to lose sleep over you because you're going to die any time now”? McNABB demanded. “It's like, ‘Okay Nick, I won't do it again, blah blah blah.' The next day I seen him and the next day after that he died.&rdquo
That same day, Gavin's mom warned her son about his Friends: “You think those people are going to help you? You're going to die at their feet,” she recalled telling her son. “They're not going to recognize that your life is fading away on you. They're just not smart enough.&rdquo
Gavin just shrugged his shoulders.
Jenniffer SIEGRIST last saw her son alive about 11 a.m. on September 29 when they met by chance while she was on her way to an appointment. He was high on ecstasy and said he would wait for her but he left.
Brad SIEGRIST, Gavin's older brother, regrets his last, ugly exchange with his brother. Gavin had stolen from him before, to buy drugs it now appears. He asked Brad for money “and he told me that people were going to kill him if he didn't get this money. I told him I don't care whether you live or die.&rdquo
Mike COX knows of rumours blaming him for injecting cocaine into Gavin but insists they're not true. He thinks police suspect he took Gavin's drugs. He says he didn't.
COX said police didn't seem eager to look for drugs that night. They didn't notice a “bag of weed” which COX says he didn't try to hide.
Family members may never resolve their helpless feelings. Quicker action might have saved Gavin when he faced death inside that westside home.
Gavin's aunt, Jenny WELLS, understands a woman was feeding SIEGRIST drugs because he didn't have any money.
She's heard there was an older woman in Owen Sound who has been in jail for selling pills who sold drugs to kids and encouraged SIEGRIST to try injecting drugs, promising him a spectacular high.
WELLS, who didn't see her nephew often because she lives out of town, thinks his hard drug use only started about seven months ago -- after he had nose surgery.
She suspects Gavin got hooked on the drugs he was prescribed then. She knew he'd been using marijuana since he was maybe 16.
WELLS railed at the memorial service a month after SIEGRIST died against what she believes is the abuse of prescription medicine. Prescriptions are being given out freely and sold on the streets, she lamented at the service.
“Gavin was given a prescription for Tylenol 3s after nose surgery, then for morphine although he was out and about, walking around. My mother was on morphine on her deathbed from cancer. Was it really necessary? Who can we blame here? Was this Gavin's gateway to his fatal needle use?&rdquo
She hopes her nephew's life -- and death -- might at least send a message that saves the lives of his Friends and others, that it can “wake up society to see there is a very big problem.&rdquo
Mike COX said nothing will be learned from Gavin SIEGRIST's story.
“Really, who's going to listen? All these... kids, all these idiots that are downtown doing drugs 24/7, smoking cigarettes. They're not going to listen. They're just going to die. That's pretty bad, I know.&rdquo

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