Advertisement

B.C. mother upset as truck donated to firefighters after son’s death returns to road

WATCH: A grieving mother donated her son's truck to her local fire department for training after he died inside it. As John Hua reports, she was shocked to discover it ended up back on the road.

Patty Marciano has been haunted by a 2007 Honda Ridgeline for years.

It’s not the fact that her only son Jamall died in the back seat of the truck in 2016, his body found partially decomposed eight days after a fentanyl overdose.

It’s because the truck that was supposed to be destroyed is somehow back on the road.

“I feel betrayed,” Marciano said Wednesday from her home in Calgary.

WATCH: (Aired June 18) Heartbreaking testimony of parents of drug overdose victim

Heartbreaking testimony of parents of drug overdose victim
Heartbreaking testimony of parents of drug overdose victim

When Surrey RCMP eventually released the vehicle to Clover Towing in Surrey, Marciano said the truck was deemed a biohazard. The family had no interest in the costly clean up, to drive it again or even sell it.

Story continues below advertisement

When staff at Clover Towing suggested the truck could be donated for training to the Langley Fire Department, it was a perfect fit: a tribute to her son amidst a terrible tragedy.

“I think he would’ve wanted something good to have come out of what happened,” said Marciano of her son, a 23-year-old personal trainer and model.

But three months later, Marciano said she got a call from Jamall’s father Darren Smith saying he spotted the truck in Langley.

READ MORE: Calls ramp up for decriminalized hard drugs as B.C. breaks overdose death annual record

The hitch, back cover and scratch on the roof were unmistakable. What was different was the couple driving it and the two children sitting in the back seat where their son had once died.

“It was hard to see it when you’re grieving for a lost child,” said Smith.

Marciano and Smith said they’ve spent the last three years trying to find out how this happened.

They were able to match the VIN number of the vehicle, yet they insist they were being told the truck was donated.

“Even to this day, when I see a grey Honda Ridgeline I say, ‘Maybe that’s my truck,'” said Marciano.

READ MORE: ‘Devastating’: Langley couple loses everything after moving truck stolen

Story continues below advertisement

Global News has learned that the Honda Ridgeline destined to be destroyed by firefighters practicing life-saving skills was never donated.

“This didn’t happen because there was a biohazard contamination in the vehicle,” said Kit Moller, the owner and director of Clover Towing.

Moller explained the suggestions to donate the vehicle to the fire department despite the clear biohazard was due to a lack of staff training.

The vehicle was instead sold off as salvage.

Moller said Clover Towing had no idea the vehicle was remediated of the biohazard contamination, and then resold and placed back on the road.

New policy and training is being put in place to ensure that any vehicle tied to a tragedy must be marked only for salvage and cannot be restored for use.

WATCH: (Aired Feb. 7) New overdose statistics lead to new calls for decriminalization

New overdose statistics lead to new calls for decriminalization
New overdose statistics lead to new calls for decriminalization

A memo was later sent to all dispatchers by general manager Cari Roberston telling them to mark any vehicle involved in a major crime or death as “salvage only” if the family doesn’t want it sold.

“It was never Clover Towing’s intention to profit from this situation,” said Moller.

Story continues below advertisement

“I really feel and empathize with Patty because I have three sons myself, and I can only imagine the hurt she feels when she sees that vehicle.”

Moller said Clover Towing would like to offer Patty Marciano and her entire family a formal apology.

While this specific vehicle cannot be pulled off the road, Marciano said she’s comforted by the promise from Clover Towing that this will never happen again.

The mother wishes it didn’t take three years and the intervention of Global News to find out the truth, but said her journey towards closure can finally begin.

“I now feel a sense of relief,” she said.