Becky Barker (left, 14), is consoled by Sammy Elder, 16, and Austin Bendall, 17. They gathered at the Esquimalt Lagoon Wednesday along with dozens of others to remember 16-year-old Abby Barker. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Vancouver Island teen who died of suspected fentanyl overdose remembered as ‘kind’, ‘bubbly’

Abby Barker, 16, was set to attend Oak Bay High in the fall

Dozens of teens and family members made their way to the Esquimalt Lagoon Wednesday afternoon to remember a West Shore teenager who died last week.

Abby Barker, a 16-year-old Belmont Secondary School student, was remembered for her bubbly attitude and love of animals. Friends came in droves to the lagoon, consoling each other and remembering Barker.

“We just happened to pass each other outside of school and I just knew I had to be her friend,” said Sammy Elder, 16, who met Barker in the first week of high school. “She’s very bubbly, I think that’s a good word to use.”

Austin Bendall, 17, met Barker at a school basketball game under the bleachers.

“I remember when I met her, I felt like I had known her for years already,” Bendall said. “She was just so kind and I had no idea who this girl was and she was just dancing with her friend right beside me.”

Elder said Barker was the kind of person who would befriend anyone within minutes of talking to them and it was evident in the number of students that showed up at the pre memorial. Some sat on driftwood, exchanging stories about Barker, while others helped erect a cross on the beach made of driftwood.

Barker’s older sister, Selena Johnson, said she helped raise her son and gave her the courage to get a job.

“She’s younger than me and I was like wow I look up to you,” Johnson said. “She’s always trying to help. Heaven gained an angel that’s for sure.”

Becky Barker, Abby’s younger sister by 18 months, wore a purple tie-dye shirt that belonged to Abby and held a pink daisy in her hand. She said the two of them were extremely close.

“We’ve always shared a room my entire life,” Barker said. “I was just talking about this a couple months ago, I said ‘mom kept us in a room together way too long, we’ll never be able to be apart,’ and she said, ‘that’s how I feel too, we’re going to have to move out together.’”

Abby Barker moved to Oak Bay recently to live with her father, Anthony. She was set to go to Oak Bay High School in the fall and according to Anthony, was looking forward to it.

“She just turned 16…she was looking forward to start driving,” Anthony said. “The next day I was going to take her to get her bangs trimmed… she just wanted to live life. Abby was just a precious little girl.”

Anthony said earlier Wednesday he received a phone call from the coroner saying they found pure fentanyl in Abby. He is calling for the police to continue investigating the death of his daughter.

“There’s a lot of anger here too, people want justice,” Anthony said.

Kyla Johnson, the eldest of the sisters, said everyone is showing their emotions in different ways whether it be sadness, anger or denial.

“We’re all just here like it’s her birthday party and we’re waiting for her to show up,” she said. “I love her, and I will cherish her forever.”

The youths and family members planned to write messages in bottles for Barker, as a way to say goodbye. While many said they would take the opportunity to send one final “I love you” to her, others had more personal messages that they hope she will receive.

“I will carry her with me for the rest of my life,” Elder said.

The West Shore RCMP and B.C. Coroners Service were called to a Langford residence on Thursday afternoon for a sudden death. While the organizations could not confirm the identity of the deceased or cause of death since the investigation is ongoing, friends and family identified her as Abby Barker and indicated she died of what they said is a suspected overdose.

Last Wednesday, Island Health issued a warning after overdoses in Greater Victoria doubled in the past week due to a stronger supply of drugs.

According to an Island Health medical health officer, Dr. Dee Hoyana, there is an average of four overdoses a week in Greater Victoria.

The B.C. Coroners Service and West Shore RCMP have not provided any more details about the investigation.

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com

 

A cross made of driftwood was erected at the Esquimalt Lagoon Wednesday in remembrance of 16-year-old Abby Barker. Barker died suddenly on Thursday from what family are saying is a suspected overdose. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Becky Barker, 14, consoles her nephew Cole Johnson, 7, at a pre memorial for 16-year-old Abby Barker at the Esquimalt Lagoon. Abby died suddenly on Thursday from what family are saying is a suspected overdose. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

A cross made of driftwood was erected at the Esquimalt Lagoon Wednesday in remembrance of 16-year-old Abby Barker. Barker died suddenly on Thursday from what family are saying is a suspected overdose. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Becky Barker, 14, consoles her nephew Cole Johnson, 7, at a pre memorial for 16-year-old Abby Barker at the Esquimalt Lagoon. Abby died suddenly on Thursday from what family are saying is a suspected overdose. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Just Posted

WATCH: Clean-up complete at abandoned Vancouver Island ski hill

Volunteers rid Forbidden Plateau of debris left over from defunct alpine operation

Fence, patrols clean up Duncan neighbourhood, long term solutions scarce

Number of homeless people camping in Lewis Street area has dropped significantly after recent sweep

Closure adds to Parksville Qualicum Beach doctor crisis

One of Canada’s oldest populations having trouble attracting medical expertise

COLUMN: People with disabilities deserve inclusive communities

But to get there, we all need to be part of the change, writes Surrey MLA

Vancouver Island drug company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

New survey finds 4.7 million women over 15 were victims of sexual assault in Canada

Some 1.2 million men (eight per cent) report having been sexually assaulted since age 15

CCPA actors fall down a Shakespearian rabbit hole

Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) makes for chaotic theatre fun

TESS VAN STRAATEN: Find Christmas cheer in the heart of Victoria

From the iconic Fairmont Empress to decorated Old Town, seasonal activities abound in the harbour

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Concern grows as deadline looms for major downtown Nanaimo hotel development

PEG Developments say they’re pushing to break ground before Dec. 31 deadline

New school for Hornby Island; $27 million in upgrades to Comox Valley Middle School

Upgrades to Lake Trail include a $1.5-million child care centre

Most Read