Red Deer mural honours ‘gentle giant’ who died from accidental overdose

Click to play video: 'Highlights from Dr. Bonnie Henry’s one-on-one on B.C.’s deadly overdose crisis' Highlights from Dr. Bonnie Henry’s one-on-one on B.C.’s deadly overdose crisis
WATCH (Sept. 30): Global's Sophie Lui sits down to talk to B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry about the ongoing deadly overdose crisis, and what can be done to stop it – Sep 30, 2020

A Red Deer family is incredibly moved by a mural of their late son, and they hope seeing his face gets other young people to think twice before taking drugs.

“You don’t want to have RCMP on your doorstep on Sunday morning at 8 a.m.,” Don Seibel said. “That’s when we found out… We had to drive to B.C. to get our son.”

Scott Seibel moved to Port Moody for work. He died on July 19 from an accidental drug overdose. He was 33.

Scott Seibel, who passed away July 19, is seen here in a photo supplied by his parents Don and Carole. Courtesy: Don Seibel

“I used to think, ‘Well, you know, they’re druggies or they’re users or they’re addicts and you almost miss the fact that they’re human beings,” Don said.

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“Our son was not a user… that’s what stunned us so bad. He was barely a recreational user.

“He went out and he’d been drinking that night. Without having a clear mind, he had some cocaine with an individual… It was laced with fentanyl. The person he was with called 911 and they never could revive him.”

Read more: Illicit drug deaths in B.C. higher than homicides, car crashes, suicide, COVID-19 combined: report

In July, B.C. recorded a near-record 176 overdose deaths. In June, 181 people died from drugs containing extreme concentrations of fentanyl. The Coroners Service said 1,068 people in B.C. have died from overdoses in the first eight months of 2020, compared to 983 in all of last year.

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“On the other end of all this drug stuff are real people that really get wounded… that are good people. Our son was a really good, solid man,” Don said.

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“He was so loveable… We called him a gentle giant. He had so many friends. He loved music, he was passionate about music and he played guitar a little bit. He was a super hard worker.

“He was a very free-spirited young man and when people met him, they couldn’t help but like him.”

One of those people, Don said, was Scott’s close friend Josh, who had just opened a tattoo shop in Red Deer.

“Josh was devastated by the loss of Scott and he got this idea that he wanted to do a tribute. He asked his landlord if he could do a tribute on the building he was leasing.”

Another friend, artist Jesse Gouchey, was able to capture Scott’s face — and piercing blue eyes — perfectly. He recreated Scott’s go-to “Hollywood pose,” Don explained.

A mural of Scott Seibel, who died July 19, is painted on a building in Red Deer, Oct. 2020. Courtesy: Don Seibel

Gouchey, who was friends with Scott for the past 15 years, described him as a kind and gentle soul. They connected over their shared love of music.

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Scott Seibel in his so-called “Hollywood pose.”. Courtesy: Don Seibel

“He knew a lot of rare hip hop that we would talk about for hours while playing pool and darts.

“I painted the mural because of his amazing heart and the way he touched many of us in such a good way.”

The mural also shows Scott standing on top of a roof, in silhouette — an homage to his framing and construction work, which he did for seven years alongside his father.

“It’s beautiful. It’s just absolutely beautiful,” Don said.

Scott and his father Don Seibel. Courtesy: Don Seibel

“Now he’s immortalized on a building. He’s 20 feet tall and he’s looking out at us.”

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Don and his wife Carole hope something positive can come out of their tragedy.

Read more: Opioid overdoses killed up to 142 people in Alberta during first 3 months of 2020: province

“Maybe something bigger can happen. Maybe we can get a message out,” he said.

“Maybe they could meet my boy… and they’d be a little more hesitant to take that hard drug.

“Do not put yourself in a position where you’re doing these drugs,” Don said. “The drug supply is poison now and it’s working its way into other parts of Canada.

Read more: Canada’s other health-care crisis: the epidemic of fatal drug overdoses

“If we can reach anybody with that story and save a life and a set of parents the grief we’ve gone through, it would be very worthwhile for us.”

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