Appeal for witnesses after long-time Vancouver overdose prevention worker killed

VANCOUVER — A worker at an overdose prevention site in Vancouver's West End has been identified as the city's ninth homicide victim of 2020 and police are appealing for witnesses as they track his killer.

A statement from Vancouver police says 41-year-old Thomus Donaghy was stabbed Monday night.

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Investigators say the Vancouver man was working at the overdose prevention site located behind St. Paul's Hospital when he left the clinic and was involved in a fight with an unknown man.

Sgt. Aaron Roed says the suspect stabbed Donaghy, who was rushed to the nearby emergency room but could not be saved.

Police are appealing for dash camera video from anyone who may have been driving in the area around the hospital at about 8:30 p.m. Monday.

Roed says it's believed several witnesses to the fist fight may not yet have spoken to investigators.

Volunteers at the overdove prevention centre say Donaghy had left the centre for a break when he was attacked.

The site has since been closed.

Overdose Prevention Society executive director Sarah Blyth says Donaghy, a long-time member of the society, was "a beautiful person" who "saved many lives."

"It's another shocking tragedy down here for people to have to deal with in a time when more people are dying than ever," she said. "It's really hard."

Overdose prevention sites rely on peer volunteers to monitor those using drugs and provide first aid, including administering naloxone, if a user has a bad reaction.

The BC Coroners Service said earlier this month that a record 175 people died in June of illicit-drug overdoses, surpassing the previous record of 171 deaths just a month before.

A public health emergency was declared in 2016 and since then about 5,000 people in B.C. have died from illicit-drug overdoses, with many caused by the powerful opioid fentanyl.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 31, 2021

— With files from CTV

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