Mary Agioritis, the mother of a 19-year-old who died of an overdose last January, is defending the mother of a 17-year-old boy accused of causing a fatal collision on Circle Drive.
Agioritis says criticism of the mother is unjustified as few know what it’s like to deal with a child who is addicted to drugs.
“If she sat and begged a judge… she would have done everything she can to this point to save her child’s life,” Agioritis said. “She sees him dying in front of her.”
The mother of the boy involved in Wednesday’s crash told CKOM News she had pleaded with a judge hours earlier, asking for her son to stay in custody so he could receive help for his addiction. The judge allegedly decided to release him and at 1:25 p.m. he was involved in a collision that killed a 70-year-old man. So far he has not been charged in relation to the crash.
Several public criticisms have come forward, questioning why the mother didn’t take the vehicle keys away from her son.
Agioritis thinks that’s unfair.
“How many of us have let our friends… get into a vehicle after having too many drinks?” she said. “Where does our responsibility stop or start? When they kill someone?”
“We can’t judge, because we’ve all been there.”
Agioritis knows the pain this mother is going through all too well. Her son Kayle Best was addicted to opioids for nearly five years. She and her family tried to get him help, but she says resources are few and far between.
“The court systems don’t want them, the health system doesn’t want them,” she said.
It was the death of Agioritis’ younger son, Kelly, from taking a half-pill of fentanyl that eventually shocked Kayle into rehab. His mother says if it wasn’t for that tragic incident, the accident on Circle Drive could’ve easily involved him.
“He had access to vehicles several times, not from our home,” she said. “And I’ve seen him nod off, where he more or less passed out.”
She said they were lucky to be able to get Kayle the help he needed, as it cost “a lot of money.”
She explained that other than expensive private rehab, parents can request a court order for detox if their child is under 18. However, the youth must go for drug testing to see if the detox is lawfully necessary.
The issue, Agioritis notes, is the only testing centre in Saskatchewan is located in Regina.
“By the time they get two officers, get the kid in the car and up (to Regina) the half-life of the drug is often gone,” she said. “What they end up doing is driving some 16-year-old kid eight hours off his drugs and crazy before dropping him off home.”
Agioritis has used her experience to help fight for more addiction resources in Canada. She’s presented to the Senate, and the story of her son’s death was told to the House of Commons to help pursuade the government to pass restrictions on fentanyl.
“I believe my son didn’t die just to be a statistic,” she said. “We’ve worked really hard to make his name make a difference.”
But she says more needs to be done to avoid more incidents like Wednesday’s.
“What’s happening right now is not working,” she said. “This mother’s experience yesterday, the kid’s, and the other family’s… this isn’t going to be the last one.”