‘Ottawa’ ‘Chloe Had a Spark of Life in Her That was Pure Sunshine’: Kanata School Mourns Death of Teen in Apparent Overdose
Students at All Saints High School wore green, Spirit Week was cancelled and grief counsellors were on hand after the death of a popular Grade 9 student on Tuesday from an apparent drug overdose.
Chloe Kotval, 14, died on Valentine’s Day, two days after her mother found her unresponsive.
“Chloe had a spark of life in her that was pure sunshine,” her parents, Shannon Edwards and Neville Kotval, said in a statement released Thursday.
“The hole left by the loss of our beautiful daughter will never be filled. Chloe made a horrible mistake and ultimately paid a dear price, but drugs were not a part of her life. We are concerned about the epidemic nature of the use of high grade pharmaceuticals amongst young people and their lack of knowledge about them – the consequences of using them are real and terrible.”
Kotval’s death came the day after Ottawa police and Ottawa Public Health issued a warning about counterfeit prescription drugs they suspect have been the cause of “recent life-threatening overdoses” in Ottawa. The alert pointed out that counterfeit pills can be made to appear nearly identical to prescription opioids such as OxyContin and Percocet.
It’s unclear what type of drug led to Kotval’s overdose or where she obtained the drug from. The family’s statement said her death was the result of taking a pharmaceutical drug of unknown origin.
Tributes to the girl flooded social media with a #GreenforChloe hashtag on Twitter. Students at All Saints and across the city responded by wearing green on Wednesday and pink on Thursday, Kotval’s two favourite colours. All Saints’ student council issued a statement saying “the loss of any student, particularly in so tragic a manner, greatly wounds us all.”
“Everybody knew Chloe. In the halls, everyone would say hi to her,” said Analis Therien, 14. “Everyone loves her. She’d laugh at everything you said. She was so sweet.”
Kotval called Therien Sunday afternoon around 2 p.m.
“I was actually the last person to talk to her,” Therien said. “She was happy. She asked me to come over, but I couldn’t. She told me how her day was. And as she was leaving she said, ‘You’re my best friend,’ and I said, ‘You’re my best friend, too.’ She said, ‘I miss you.’ I said, ‘I miss you, too’ and I said, ‘I love you.’ She said, ‘I love you more.’ And that was it.”
Therien was shocked to learn Tuesday afternoon that Kotval had died. Her close friends spent the day in the school chapel.
“It was very quiet,” she said.
She was shocked, too, to learn her friend had died of an overdose.
“Everyone’s wondering how it got there and who gave it to her.”
Mardi de Kemp, manager of communications for the Ottawa Catholic School Board, said grief counsellors were at the school and will remain on hand for as long as needed. Ottawa police confirmed they became involved with the case on Feb. 12, but would give no other details. The investigation remains open but at this point the death is not considered a criminal matter, said Const. Marc Soucy.
In their statement, the family said, “Chloe appeared to be struggling with a few typical teenage issues” and had sought help “through a counsellor and other means.” Her parents sought help and “were worried, but not alarmed.”
She was taken on Sunday to CHEO, where doctors found she had suffered “complete and irreversible loss of brain function.” Her organs were donated after her death.
Her parents described her as “a well-loved and compassionate young person whose sunny disposition attracted a large group of friends.” She loved animals and “devoted her energy and much of her beloved bingo winnings to the North Abaco Potcake Rescue for mixed breed Caribbean dogs,” where the family often vacationed.
Kotval attended Stephen Leacock Public School in Kanata before attending All Saints. She played football and was a cheerleader.
Her mother is a nurse at The Ottawa Hospital while her father is an executive at Nokia.
Kotval’s death comes as Ottawa Public Health has stepped up its education about the dangers of opioids such as fentanyl, with more information available at the website StopOverdoseOttawa.ca.
All Saints is planning a tribute to Chloe next week.
Kotval’s funeral will be held Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at Tubman Funeral Home, 3440 Richmond Rd. in Bells Corners. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to the Trillium Gift of Life Network for organ donations or North Abaco Potcake Rescue.