A 17-year-old Abbotsford girl died Thursday night after having taken the drug ecstasy three days earlier at a sleepover with three other teens.
Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald said Cheryl McCormack, a Grade 12 student of Robert Bateman Secondary, took the drug at about 9 p.m on Monday, Dec. 19.
At about 2:45 a.m., she became unresponsive. B.C. Ambulance Service attended the scene and transported the teen to hospital, where she remained in critical condition until passing away on Thursday.
The three other girls, who did not experience the same reaction, were treated in hospital as a precaution and released the same day.
MacDonald said the teens have indicated that they were using ecstasy – which can suppress appetite – as a weight-loss drug.
“We don’t believe it’s the first-time ingestion for any of the teenagers. They have been very forthcoming and cooperative with the investigation, given the severity of the consequences.”
Ecstasy, usually taken in pill form, is referred to as the “love drug” because of the euphoric and relaxed feelings it produces. It is sometimes used as an appetite suppressant.
However, because ecstasy is man-made, its contents and quality can vary, according to Health Canada.
It is similar to stimulant drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamine and can contain traces of other substances such as LSD, PCP or meth, the agency says.
A product sold as “herbal ecstasy” contains a natural stimulant called ephedrine that has been associated with an increase risk of stroke, heart attack and death, Health Canada adds.
MacDonald said although Cheryl’s family has requested privacy, they agreed to release her name and supply a photo to warn others about the dangers of using illicit drugs for any reason.
Abbotsford school trustee Shirley Wilson is a friend of the McCormack family, whom she met about 10 years ago through their involvement in figure skating.
Wilson and Cheryl’s mom, Cathy, were both on the board of the Abbotsford Skating Club, and their daughters were members of the synchronized skating team.
“She (Cheryl) was always bright and sunny and fun … She always had a smile on her face. She was a really nice young lady,” Wilson said.
Cheryl later switched to rugby and was a member of the senior girls’ team at Robert Bateman.
Wilson said the family – also including dad Sean and older sister Shawna – are not only grieving the loss of Cheryl, but are in shock about how it happened.
“I think they’re reeling from trying to understand it.”
A memorial service for the teen has not yet been scheduled.
Meanwhile, the family has requested that donations, in lieu of flowers, be made to the Cheryl McCormack Memorial Award in care of the Abbotsford Community Foundation.
Cheques are payable to the foundation (specify that the donation is for the Cheryl McCormack Memorial Award) and can be sent to: #202-2890 Garden St., Abbotsford, V2T 4W7.
Online donations can be made at abbotsfordcf.org. Call the foundation at 604-850-3755 for more information.
Abbotsford Police are continuing to investigate Cheryl’s death and are hoping to identify the supplier and the source of the ecstasy. Anyone with information is asked to call the APD at 604-859-5225 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.