‘Waited too long to call emergency services’: Teenagers to be prosecuted in overdose death

‘Waited too long to call emergency services’: Teenagers to be prosecuted in overdose death
Antwerp Courthouse. Credit: © Belga

The Antwerp Public Prosecutor's Office has decided to prosecute 11 minors in the juvenile courts for the death of a 15-year-old boy from Keerbergen.

The boy died after school from a drug overdose and investigations revealed that a large group of young people present waited far too long before notifying the emergency services, VRT reports.

The incident happened in June 2019. The 15-year-old had gone with a group of friends to Hondsbossen nature park in Sint-Katelijne-Waver near Mechelen after exams and the group decided to take ecstasy.

Statements from the young people present about what happened next varied wildly, making it difficult to determine what exactly went wrong and whether or not the boy was pressured into taking the drugs against his will.

What is known is that the victim became unwell and lost consciousness and that while “some of the youngsters tried to intervene,” not enough was done and they notified emergency services far too late. The boy was eventually taken to a hospital in a coma, where he eventually died.

Investigation lasted too long, say parents of the deceased boy

After almost three years, the investigation is complete and 11 minors will face charges.

“It concerns one minor who is accused of trafficking ecstasy and 10 minors for negligence,” said a spokesperson for the Antwerp Public Prosecutor.

One of the minors involved – a boy from Schriek who was 16 years old at the time – was arrested shortly after the incident and placed in a closed institution by the juvenile court because he was known to have supplied the drugs.

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The parents of the deceased boy said through their lawyer that they are relieved to see that the case is finally making progress.

“And we are especially reassured that the investigation has finally been concluded, because we do think that it has unfortunately lasted too long,” said lawyer Frédéric Thiebaut.

“We take note of the fact that the Public Prosecutor wants to prosecute a whole series of people involved in the juvenile court. To lose a child as a parent is beyond words. But the circumstances in which this happened here make it even harder to bear.”

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