VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Prominent Vancouver sports writer and commentator Jason Botchford died from an accidental overdose of cocaine and fentanyl last year, his wife confirmed in a statement Friday.
In the statement shared on Twitter by Botchford’s father, John Lott, Kathyrn Botchford says the B.C. Coroners Service completed its investigation into her husband’s April 2019 death.
“We were completely shocked and in disbelief to discover the cause of Jason’s sudden death. The cause does not change who Jason was to all of us, but just makes his death that much harder to comprehend, We are still grieving,” she says.
The family of local sports journalist Jason Botchford confirms he died suddenly last year after an accidental overdose from cocaine & fentanyl, saying they were in shock and disbelief to discover the cause, though "it does not change who Jason was to all of us." https://t.co/3xtggAMKsM
— Ria Renouf (@riarenouf) August 28, 2020
Botchford, a father of three, was 48 years old and wrote about the Vancouver Canucks and NHL for The Province and The Athletic. He also commented about the league on radio and TV.
“We are grateful for the outpouring of support that followed Jason’s death,” Kathryn says. “Today, the privacy of our family, primarily the children, remains our principal concern. The kids and I have already had to cope with so much pain.”
Satiar Shah, a host on Sportsnet 650, expressed sympathy for the family.
“My heart breaks for the entire family, Jason’s tremendous professional & personal legacy will live on forever,” Shah tweeted.
My heart breaks for the entire family, Jason’s tremendous professional & personal legacy will live on forever
— Satiar Shah (@SatiarShah) August 28, 2020
Thomas Drance, who writes about hockey for The Athletic, also wished the family well.
“Lots of love to both of you and the kids. The cause changes nothing about the tremendous man, husband, father, mentor and reporter Jason was,” Drance says in another tweet.
Lots of love to both of you and the kids. The cause changes nothing about the tremendous man, husband, father, mentor and reporter Jason was.
— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) August 28, 2020
Following Botchford’s death, more than $100,000 was raised for his wife and children on GoFundMe.
Botchford worked at The Province from 2005 to 2018, then moved over to The Athletic.
“He developed a huge following with his lively, often playful writing style, edgy commentary and plugged-in reportage. His dynamic presence on social media attracted more than 59,000 Twitter followers,” says the GoFundMe page.
“Upon hearing of Jason’s death, many have described him and his professional work as polarizing, passionate, trailblazing, and legendary. And while his work will be what many will remember him for, we must also remember that first and foremost, Jason was a loving husband and a wonderful father.”
Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson, in his NHL rookie-of-the-year acceptance speech, thanked Botchford.
“Jason was a great supporter of the Vancouver media and a great man,” Pettersson said.
Andy Watson, with the coroners service, said Botchford’s death points to a need for an end to the stigma around drug use.
“We’ve got to recognize that this is a health issue. It’s not a choice for many people. We have to start treating this as a health issue and supporting those people who use drugs,” he said.
“Accessing these key harm reduction services is crucial because we don’t want people to die.”
Health officials across the country have been lobbying for a safer supply of drugs and decriminalization of possession of small amounts for personal use.
B.C. recorded a near-record 175 overdose deaths in July, and health officials blamed a toxic drug supply and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The total is just two fewer than the provincial record of 177 set in June, and the third straight month with more than 170 overdose deaths.
“We’re seeing fentanyl detected with uppers, we’re seeing fentanyl detected with depressants,” Watson said. “It’s in everything”