White Rock fentanyl victim ‘didn’t fit the stereotype’

Harold (Jessie) Ruth has been identified by family as the man who died of an overdose early Nov. 20 in White Rock

The sister of a man who died of a fentanyl overdose in White Rock last month says she is confident her brother did not realize what he was taking on that fateful night.

Gail Kroeker told Peace Arch News Friday that her brother Harold Ruth – who she says many people knew as Jessie – “absolutely” hadn’t wanted to die.

The Surrey man was found deceased at a home on Marine Drive at around 1 a.m. Nov. 20. And while police suspect he died after ingesting what he believed to be heroin, Kroeker said her family is still searching for information that will give them the full picture.

“There are some questions that are unanswered,” she said.

Ruth, 53, was one of two fatal overdose victims in White Rock that weekend. A 34-year-old died shortly before 11 a.m. on Nov. 19. A witness told police the man believed he was taking a combination of heroin and cocaine.

At the time, BC Coroners Service spokesperson Barb McLintock would not confirm the two deaths were linked to fentanyl, citing a wait for toxicology reports.

McLintock later told PAN that only aggregate numbers regarding illicit-drug overdoses would be shared, as too many were happening to respond to media requests for information regarding specific incidents.

“There are just way too many of them for us to cope,” she said.

Kroeker said her brother did not fit the stereotypical picture that many have of people who use drugs.

“He did have family members who loved him dearly,” she said. “He was very well-liked by a lot of people.

“It’s not always the picture you see of people down on Hastings walking around like zombies.”

A longshoreman since 1988, Ruth is survived by two daughters, his parents and four siblings.

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