Columbine shooting survivor and addiction advocate, 37, is found dead

Columbine shooting survivor and addiction advocate, 37, is found dead


A Columbine shooting survivor has been found dead at his home, twenty years after he was shot twice and watched his best friend murdered in front of him  Austin Eubanks, 37, was found at his Steamboat Springs home, there were no signs of foul play and an autopsy is scheduled Monday to determine the cause of death Just a month ago, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the shootings, Eubanks told the DailyMail com how he spiraled into opioid and alcohol abuse as a way to numb the pain.Eubanks described his difficult and inspirational journey to sobriety and of how he became an advocate for fighting addiction, travelling the country telling his story  Eubanks’ family says in a statement that he ‘lost the battle with the very disease he fought so hard to help others face ‘The family added: ‘We thank the recovery community for its support. As you can imagine, we are beyond shocked and saddened and request that our privacy is respected at this time ‘     On April 20, 1999, Dylan Klebold, 17, and Eric Harris, 18, began a murderous rampage that left 12 students and one teacher dead Eubanks was just a 17-year-old junior when the sound of gunshots began to ring out through the hallways of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado ‘I had a routine where I’d meet up with my best friend Corey DePooter in the library and we’d discuss what we were going to do after school,’ Eubanks told the DailyMail com, in an exclusive interview in April. ‘As we sat down, that’s when the shooting started A teacher burst in and shouted at us to hide under tables but I remember most people just stood up ‘This was 1999, nobody knew what high-powered gun-fire sounded like in the hallways of a high school I was laying there playing dead. I’d been hit twice but I knew Corey was gone ‘Then she yelled at us again and we realized this was serious, so Corey and I hid under a table as the gunmen came in firing They moved methodically from section to section coming to ours last.’That’s when Eubanks says he disconnected from reality Klebold fired multiple gunshots under the table, hitting him in the leg and hand He survived and pretended to be dead, but his friend wasn’t so lucky. Bullets pierced DePooter’s neck, chest and arm – killing him instantly ‘I was laying there playing dead. I’d been hit twice but I knew Corey was gone – he was the last person killed in the shooting that day ‘Satisfied with their actions, the gunmen moved on until eventually, when the coast was clear, Eubanks and the surviving students ran to safety ‘My right hand was bleeding but I couldn’t feel any pain nor register what was happening I was disassociated and didn’t even realize my leg was wounded until I tried to run ‘I was taken to hospital for treatment and that’s when my story really began.’ Eubanks revealed he was so unable to process the grief that he spiraled into opioid addiction in an attempt to numb the agony with a daily intake of alcohol and prescription painkillers When I took those substances I didn’t cry as much, things didn’t hurt as much ‘I was on 7 5mg of Vicodin to begin with plus some other medication to help cope with sleep and shock I turned myself into an emotionless robot until I couldn’t feel anything anymore ‘When I took those substances things felt better. I didn’t cry as much, things didn’t hurt as much Quickly Eubanks’ alcohol abuse led to marijuana, then ecstasy and cocaine and even during his worst period – heroin All of this was to push back any emotions – grief, anger, despair guilt – for surviving on a day when 13 others did not Although his then-wife helped encourage him into a 28-day recovery program, Eubanks was unable to beat his demons and quickly slipped back into old ways Share this article Share At the height of his addiction he says he was taking 400mg of the highly addictive and potentially lethal painkiller Oxycontin every day – more than 40 times the dose doctors will initially prescribe patients ‘Addicted brains don’t make sober decisions and I went right back to my life after 28 days in treatment and then got even worse Then I went to treatment for 90 days and again slowly slipped back into old behaviors with old friends One night he woke up in jail with no recollection of how he’d gotten there. He’d blacked out in a restaurant and was picked up wondering the streets in a drug-addled daze That moment, he decided, was the rock bottom on which he would build the foundations of his new life upon ‘Aged 29, in 2011, I remained in treatment for 14 months where I finally started dealing with survivor’s guilt It was only then I went through the stages of grief that I should have gone through when I was 17 ‘  today. today  ‘We’re creating a country that is a powder keg, filled with loneliness, isolation, rage and division of people ‘It is because of a lack of human connection and because everything is designed to make you feel good and be addictive ‘Eubanks was determined to help others who were struggling to cope with trauma and turning to substances as means of disconnecting from reality I have picture of him in my office and I have a picture of him in my home. I no longer think of the sadness – I think of the happy times As the days ticked down to April 20, 2019, Eubanks said his dear friend DePooter was never far from his mind He kept a photo of him in his office and in his home – to remind him, not of the grief, but of the good times they shared In previous years he marked the day on his own by fly-fishing – a passion he and his best friend shared together It allowed him to be in the moment and introspective.This year was in Florida for Easter, attending a church service on a beach surrounded by friends and loved ones  ‘I have picture of him in my office I have a picture of him in my home. I no longer think of the sadness – I think of the happy times where he fly-fished and played golf ‘Eubanks tragically leaves two daughters behind.  

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