Aron Crimeni worries his memories of his son, Carson, are starting to get hazy around the edges.
The exact timbre of Carson’s boyish voice, which often vibrated with excitement, has faded slightly in the year since the 14-year-old died shortly after his distress from a suspected drug overdose was filmed and mocked on social media by teenagers at a suburban B.C. skate park.
Mr. Crimeni finds himself rereading their text messages.
“It’s all I have left,” he said.
The death of the Langley, B.C., boy sparked a national outpouring of anger at the callousness of the teenagers in the video and prompted a police investigation into whether any of the teens at the park that night bear some responsibility for what happened. But the investigation has dragged on.
Mr. Crimeni said police have told him a file has been sent to Crown prosecutors that amounts to about 2,000 pages. A decision over whether charges will be laid has been repeatedly delayed: In February, the RCMP told The Globe and Mail that the Crown advised them that “they will need another month to review the material sent to them.” Last week, RCMP said it will be another month before a decision is made.
“We should hear by September,” Constable Holly Largy said.
RCMP will not say if the file sent to the Crown recommends charges be laid, how many people might be involved, or the charges under potential consideration. RCMP note that’s up to the Crown. A spokesman with the BC Prosecution Service confirmed the RCMP have sent a report to the Crown. Spokesman Dan McLaughlin said the service could not confirm any details about the report, nor could it say when the service would reach a conclusion about charges.
Carson was found alone, slumped against a fence, barely breathing at the Walnut Grove athletic park on Aug. 7 of last year. Disturbing videos show the teen barely able to stand or speak earlier that evening.
Carson, who had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and struggled in school, had been bullied by classmates at Walnut Grove Secondary School. In one video taken that night, captioned “12-year-old tweaking on molly,” Carson appears heavily intoxicated, allegedly on MDMA, a party drug also known as ecstasy. Teens burst into laughter when Carson can’t seem to recall his name. In what appears to be the final photo from that night, a teen leans toward the ambulance attending to the boy in the background. “Carson almost died lol” the caption reads.
Carson’s death was pronounced several minutes later. Mr. Crimeni said he has not been shown his son’s toxicology report because police “want it kept confidential until charges are pressed.” He said a coroner confirmed drugs were the cause of his death.
“They told us he was a healthy boy in every other way.”
Mr. Crimeni said the police have “been working hard,” but “it’s extremely frustrating” about how long the process to have charges pressed is taking. All police have told him, he said, is that they have a “very strong case that foul play was involved.”
Mr. Crimeni doesn’t want to talk to the youth who stood by laughing as his son was dying before their eyes. He wants to make sure this doesn’t happen again. He wants those kids responsible to pay a price.
They were “playing a game with him,” Mr. Crimeni said. They wanted the pesky little kid who wanted so desperately to hang out with them to make a fool of himself. They “thought it would be funny.”
In the past 12 months, Mr. Crimeni has retreated further into himself. He finally went back to work this winter, but COVID-19 put an end to it. Entire weeks can pass without him seeing anyone. He’s gained weight. His goatee has gone white. His face looks sallow, haunted. A doctor prescribed anti-depressants, but he doesn’t think they do anything. Mostly, he keeps taking them to make his father, Darrel, happy. He dreams about Carson. But a lot of these dreams are “not good.”
On Friday, the one-year anniversary of Carson’s death, Mr. Crimeni is planning to return to the Langley skate park where his son spent his last few hours and light candles in his memory. Last month, he bought a dozen red balloons on what would have been Carson’s 15th birthday.
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