The Kanata community is in mourning after the death of 14-year-old Chloe Kotval on Tuesday, Feb. 14.
“Chloe had a spark of life in her that was pure sunshine. The hole left by the loss of our beautiful daughter will never be filled,” said Chloe’s parents, Shannon Edwards and Neville Kotval, in a statement Thursday.
The Grade 9 All Saints High School student was found unresponsive by her mother on Sunday after “taking a pharmaceutical drug of unknown origin,” according to the family. She was rushed to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, where tests found Chloe had suffered “complete and irreversible” loss of brain function. Her organs were donated on Valentine’s Day.
“Chloe made a horrible mistake and ultimately paid a dear price, but drugs were not a part of her life,” said her parents. “We are concerned about the epidemic nature of the use of high grade pharmaceuticals amongst young people and their lack of knowledge about them — the consequences of using them are real and terrible.”
Chloe appeared to be struggling with “typical teenage issues” in recent weeks, according to the family’s statement. Her parents “were worried but not alarmed” and sought help for their daughter through a counsellor and other means.
Chloe’s family described her as “a well-loved and compassionate young person whose sunny disposition attracted a large group of friends. She was an animal lover who, on frequent family vacations to Bahamas, devoted her energy and much of her beloved bingo winnings to the North Abaco Potcake Rescue for mixed breed Caribbean dogs.”
Chloe’s death came a day after Ottawa Public Health and Ottawa police issued a joint alert warning residents about counterfeit prescription medications found in the city.
“It is suspected that counterfeit drugs found in Ottawa have been involved in recent life-threatening overdoses,” said the joint release. “Illicit fentanyl has been detected in counterfeit pills manufactured to resemble prescription pills like Percocet. The presence of illicit fentanyl significantly increases the risk of overdose; it is fatal in very small amounts.”
Ottawa police are investigating Chloe’s death, according to the family’s statement.
“This is an open investigation,” said Const. Marc Soucy. He couldn’t confirm or deny the name of the victim. “Any suspicious death, we investigate.”
Students at All Saints and at schools across the city wore green, Chloe’s favourite colour, on Feb. 15 in tribute to the Kanata Lakes teen. A #GreenForChloe hashtag appeared on Twitter with condolences and green hearts flooding the social media site.
“Every student contributes in no small measure to the community we create together at All Saints,” said a letter from the student council. “The loss of any student, particularly in so tragic a manner, greatly wounds us all. We know that you join us in expressing the inmost sorrow and most sincere condolences of the entire All Saints community to Chloe’s parents and family.”
Denise Andre, director of education with the Catholic school board, said in a release that crisis response teams have been deployed to the school for as long as needed.
“Our school board community is deeply saddened by the loss of Chloe Kotval. Our prayers and thoughts are with her family and those close to her during this extremely difficult time,” said Andre. “We will continue to focus on supporting the students and staff at All Saints High School with grief counselling as they deal with this tragedy.”
Information about counterfeit pills, overdose prevention, naloxone and treatment resources can be found online at StopOverdoseOttawa.ca.