British Columbia

Family, friends remember Langley teen whose apparent overdose was broadcast on social media

Carson Crimeni's family believes someone gave him drugs near a skatepark in Langley, B.C., and witnesses stood by as he overdosed and took video that was later posted to social media.

Carson Crimeni, 14, died near a skatepark in the Metro Vancouver suburb

Mourners gathered at the funeral for 14-year-old Carson Cremini on Thursday at Church in the Valley in Langley, B.C. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Family, friends and classmates of 14-year-old Carson Crimeni, who died three weeks ago of an apparent overdose near a skatepark in Langley, B.C., gathered to remember the teen at his funeral Thursday. 

Hundreds of people attended the service at Church in the Valley in Langley. Crimeni's hockey team sat together in their jerseys, with Crimeni's number 14 draped over an empty seat to mark his place.

"He wanted nothing more than to be a good friend to people," said his father Aron Crimeni, breaking down in tears during the eulogy for his teenage son.

Carson died shortly after his grandfather found him slumped against a fence, still breathing, at the Walnut Grove Athletic Park on Aug. 7. 

His death prompted outrage and received national attention after video showing him in distress at the skatepark circulated on Snapchat. His family believes someone gave him drugs and witnesses stood by, taking videos later posted to the social media app.

Carson's hockey team attended the service wearing their jerseys, his draped over an empty seat. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The boy's mother, Chantell Griffiths, told those attending the memorial service that change is needed in the world. Carson's sister, Bella, said people around Carson at the time of his death were "heartless."

Chantelle Griffiths speaks at the funeral for her 14-year-old son Carson Crimeni. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The B.C. Coroners Service investigation into Crimeni's death that would determine its cause is ongoing.

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO), the province's police watchdog, is also examining why officers didn't find the boy before his grandfather did, despite an earlier 911 call. 

The skate-park memorial for Carson grew quickly in the days following his death three weeks ago. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Overwhelming support

Crimeni's death has struck a chord in the Walnut Grove community, which Carson's dad says has been nothing but supportive. 

A memorial at the skate park near the place where Crimeni's grandfather found him has grown in the weeks since the teen's death. Dozens of bouquets of flowers and photos have been laid down around the park, with messages of support sprayed across the concrete in blue paint.

Candles have been lit every night at sunset for days.

Aron Crimeni, father of 14-year-old Carson Crimeni, wipes away tears while speaking to the crowd of mourners. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

During the memorial, Aron Crimeni said his son loved nothing more than making people laugh, even from an early age. He remembered how, as a two-year-old, the little boy tricked him into thinking he had accidentally slammed a refrigerator door shut on his son's hand.

The toddler laughed when he revealed he had hidden his hand in a space next to the door, Crimeni recalled.

His son loved animals, especially his cat Coco, and dreamed of being a veterinarian, his dad added. Carson was also a keen cook who would drag his father away from the frozen aisle so he could make something fresh, his dad remembered.

Carson Crimeni died of an apparent drug overdose Aug. 7 near a skatepark in Langley, B.C. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

He added that the boy also loved to swim and play hockey.

"In his entire 14 years, I can't think of a single time I heard him say a negative, bad or down word about anybody, ever,'' Crimeni said, his voice breaking.

"I just want to say to my son: Thank you for being my best friend.''

'Impact is far reaching' 

As Carson's schoolmates prepare to return to classes next week, staff at the Langley School District say they've been focusing on providing support for students and staff. 

The teens's death received national attention after video showing him in distress at the skatepark circulated on Snapchat. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Joanne Abshire, speaking on behalf of the school district, said Crimeni's death has had an effect beyond classroom walls. 

"Any time one of our schools loses a student, the impact is far reaching," Abshire said Wednesday. "It's not just our students and staff here at Walnut Grove that are feeling an impact. We're definitely seeing [an outpouring] of support from the public."

With files from Tanya Fletcher, Georgie Smyth and the Canadian Press