BRITISH COLUMBIA

Nick Lang Death: B.C. Family Wants Inquiry Into Teen's Death While In Provincial Care

10/13/2015 05:09 EDT | Updated 10/12/2016 05:12 EDT
Another B.C. family is demanding an independent inquiry into the Ministry of Children and Family Development after their 15-year-old son died while he was in provincial care. 

"We thought we would get our son back, he would come back in six months better than he was when he left ... he died in six days," said Peter Lang. 

Peter Lang's son, Nick Lang, was taken to Campbell River, B.C., to attend a treatment program for drug addiction paid for by the ministry. During that time, he stayed with a family screened by the ministry and attended the program during the day.

His son was not apprehended as a child in need of protection — he was a meth addict who was sent to a rehabilitation program contracted out by the ministry.

Nick Lang died on June 9. 

Family misinformed 

Peter Lang blames lack of proper supervision and ministry staff incompetence for his youngest son's death. Both he and his wife, Linda Tenpas, say their son should have been put in detox for a week before starting the program.

Lang says the ministry misled him about what kind of supervision his son would be under.

"I was lead to believe Nick would never be alone, that the protocol was he would always be with someone, except bathrooms," said Peter Lang.

"But in actual fact, he was allowed to be alone and there were no protocols to watch him for detox or self-harm." 

Lang was found dead in a closet after being left alone for 40 minutes. His father said the family his son was living with was not informed that the teenager was coming down off meth and marijuana and had a history of hurting himself.

The host family told Tenpas that he was the first child they had ever cared for, and they did not know he required constant supervision.

Tenpas says she and her husband were told to have no contact with their son for the first two weeks, but her son called and left her a voicemail sounding distressed.

She says she tried to reach his ministry worker for three days, and when he finally returned her calls, it was too late.

"He finally called me back approximately 15 minutes before Nick passed away," she said. "I finally made the phone call to talk to my son and EMT were there working on him." 

Call for independent inquiry

The B.C. Coroner service is still investigating the death. The ministry is also conducting a review.

CBC News tried to reach both agencies, but their offices said they were closed until Tuesday.

"I would like to see a public inquiry into all of this," said Tenpas.

The family is joining two other families in demanding an independent inquiry into the deaths of children in provincial care.

"I want to see someone from the outside look at all of these deaths, because there are similarities in these situations," said Peter Lang.

"These kids may have been different, but they're also extremely similar in how their cases were handled." 

Nick Lang's friends have spray painted a permanent memorial to the boy under the Vedder Bridge, and many visit often.

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