Kelowna RCMP say despite reports in the community that 17-year-old Marissa Ginter died after taking the drug MDMA, better known as ecstasy, it is not prepared to make that determination until it receives results of toxicology analysis.
“We can’t say if it is related to ecstasy (MDMA) at this point, maybe it is,” said Kelowna RCMP spokesman Const. Kris Clark at a police media briefing Tuesday morning.
“We don’t have a cause of death. So for me to say a 17-year-old died of an overdose is irresponsible on my part because we don’t have the information.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the B.C. Coroner’s Service confirmed Ginter’s identity and said the cause of her death had still not been confirmed because further examinations, including a toxicology analysis still had yet to be done.
Ginter, whose body was found in her bed at her home by a friend last Friday morning, was known to three other teens who were hospitalized in Kelowna over the long weekend after using what police originally thought was MDMA. Police now say the drug they took was, in fact, heroin. Police say they believe the trio–aged 15, 16 and 18–bought the drugs on the street in Kelowna.
But while Clark said the three knew Ginter, he refused to immediately connect her death to the illness that befell them. All three were reported as recovering from severe gastrointestinal pain, vomiting and itching suffered after taking the heroin.
Clark said Ginter’s death was turned over to the B.C. Coroner’s service for investigation but the police are also continuing to investigate.
Asked why the RCMP did not notify the public on Friday about Ginter’s death in light of the fact thousands of young people were in town for the annual Centre of Gravity music and sports festival in City Park, Clark defended police action saying the force did not have enough information at that time.
He said a warning was issued on Friday highlighting the situation involving the three other teens and their use of what police at the time though was ecstasy.
“To incite further panic or fear in that particular situation didn’t seen appropriate,” he said.
Described as a kind, friendly person, who played musical instruments, sang and frequented the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club, Ginter was remembered by several of her friends at an impromptu memorial in Waterfront Park on Monday evening.
Candles were lit and carried as 20 young people walked through the park to one of Ginter’s favourite spots, the beach beside Rotary Marshes.