Danika Koltai is being remembered as 'an amazing person' with a contagious laugh and 'the sweetest heart.'

Family hopes others learn from South Surrey woman’s overdose death

There is an important misconception that overdoses occur only in stereotypes and newspapers, father writes

The family of a young South Surrey woman who died this month after ingesting an “accidental but deadly concoction of prescription and non-prescription” drugs is sharing her story through social media in the hopes of preventing similar deaths in the future.

“There is an implied stigma that surrounds such things,” Tom Koltai, the father of Danika Koltai, wrote in a Facebook post Saturday.

“There is a an important misconception that overdoses occur only in stereotypes and newspapers. No stereotype here.”

According to the B.C. Coroners’ Service, Danika Koltai died Sept. 1 at a residence she was visiting in Delta. She was 20 years old.

Specific details around the circumstances of her death have not been shared publicly, however, a Facebook post by her older brother suggests the deadly opiate fentanyl – blamed for many overdose deaths in recent months – was the culprit.

“As many of you know, it is becoming increasingly common for individuals that sell drugs to cut their product with other substances that mimic the high for customers and increase profits,” Jonathan Koltai writes.

“When they throw things like fentanyl into the mix, the margin for error is extremely slim, and things get dangerous fast. It is not my intention to lecture anyone here, but I think it is important for all of us to step back and reflect when something tragic like this happens. It is important to consider what reward means in relation to risk. My little sister is gone because someone wanted to make a few extra dollars. I will never see her beautiful smile again, and that crushes me.”

Family members did not wish to comment publicly Monday beyond their Facebook posts.

Danika attended Earl Marriott Secondary in South Surrey and was a youth soccer player. More recently, she worked at The Shops at Morgan Crossing Starbucks, where flowers and photographs now pay tribute to her.

Comments on Facebook describe a happy young woman with a kind heart, unforgettable laughter and lively soul.

One commenter describes her “an amazing person who always looked out for everyone.

“Your smile would light up the room and your loud laugh was contagious.”

Jennifer Brooks, the mother of another young adult whose life ended tragically – Hudson Brooks, who was shot and killed by police in South Surrey in July 2015 – also commented, describing her late son’s friend as “a beautiful girl… with the sweetest heart.”

“Danika your generous spirit, integrity and thoughtfulness shown to others is a legacy of who you are.”

Tom Koltai, in his post, describes his daughter as “just a beautiful woman taken from herself and the rest of us by chosen behaviors with completely unintended consequences.”

He appealed to those who knew Danika to recognize that such tragedy can happen to anyone, and share that awareness in her memory.

“If you have children, you may be unable to compel them to behave,” he writes. “You can, however, share this story of Danika and through her voice lovingly nudge chosen behaviour towards safer ground. If you don’t have children, acknowledge that only you, your friends, your families, your co-workers, can choose your own and their own behaviours. Acknowledge that your own safety is a direct function of your chosen behaviours. Let this be Danika’s voice… let Danika’s voice be heard.”

Her death comes four months after the provincial government declared its first-ever public-health emergency to deal with the sharply rising cases of opioid drug overdoses in B.C.

The measure – ordering hospitals, paramedics, police and firefighters to immediately report them – was to allow for rapid collection of data from health authorities and the B.C. Coroners’ Service, so treatment kits could be deployed to regions where there are new clusters of outbreaks.

At that time, those clusters were mainly in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

In June, Surrey high school students were sent home with letters warning about fentanyl and a second fairly recent addition to the illicit drug scene, W-18.

Fentanyl – a potent synthetic opioid that has been found mixed with heroin, cocaine and even marijuana – has been tied to about 60 per cent of 371 drug-overdose deaths in B.C. that occurred in the first half of this year.

In one evening alone late last month, paramedics responded to nine overdose reports in South Delta in the space of 20 minutes. Delta Police said they believe the drugs used were tainted with fentanyl, and that all nine who overdosed – described as “young adults” – were recreational users who believed they were using cocaine.

Eight were taken to emergency in respiratory distress; one was found in full cardiac arrest.

– with files from Black Press

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police watchdog investigating death of man in Delta

Independent Investigations Office asking for witnesses to May 29 incident at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

Love flourishes at Peace Arch Park, but COVID-19 concerns loom

South Surrey park becomes only place for international couples to meet

Human Rights Tribunal denies church’s request to toss out White Rock Pride Society’s complaint

Star of the Sea and White Rock Pride Society to go to Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Surrey RCMP searching for missing 12-year-old boy

Landon Vangeel-Morgan was last seen 9:14 p.m., May 30 near 96 Avenue and 150 Street

COVID-19: Daily update on pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

Provincial Health Officer officially bans overnight kids’ camps this summer

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

B.C.’s Central Kootenay region declares state of emergency, issues evacuation orders

The evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Importance of accurate, ethical reporting more critical than ever

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Most Read