Alberta father learns of his son’s death in Victoria after Googling his name and finding the obituary | PKBNEWS

Glen Grier of Stony Plain, Alberta wanted to send a birthday message to his son. Scott Grier, 36, was living on the streets in Victoria, British Columbia, and his father hadn’t heard from him in a while.

He made a discovery that is perhaps a parent’s worst fear: finding out through a Google search last week that his child was dead – and had been for eight months.

“It got me thinking, nobody warned me so maybe it’s not him, maybe it’s someone else,” Grier said.

“Things are starting to go through your head.”

Scott had a tough life. He struggled with addictions and experienced homelessness. He moved from Edmonton to Victoria in 2019 but returned with his family every few months.

Grier said Scott didn’t always have a phone, so the family sometimes had trouble reaching him and waited for Scott to contact them.

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Last week, Grier noted that it had been too long since he had heard from his son. He wanted to call so Scott could speak to his seven-year-old daughter, who is in the care of Grier and his wife Michelle.

Grier, who was at times overcome with emotion when speaking with PKBNEWS, described his son as a free spirit and a fun person.

“He was a wonderful child, very happy, full of energy. Very affectionate.”

On Jan. 18, Scott’s birthday, Grier looked up his son’s name online, as he had done before when trying to make contact.

“At the very top was the missing persons (report) that we did in 2020, where they successfully located him…and just below is his obituary,” Grier said.

Grier said the post was blank except for a name, date of birth and that Scott died on May 16, 2022.

In speaking with police, the coroner and the funeral home the next day, Grier discovered that fingerprints confirmed it was his son, who was cremated and buried eight months ago at Hatley Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Victoria.

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Grier said no effort was made to contact Scott’s family.

When a person with no fixed address dies in British Columbia, the Public and Guardian Trust (PGT) is notified.

If the deceased was under age 65 and was receiving benefits from the British Columbia Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction (MSDPR), that ministry takes care of the person’s funeral arrangements.

For those who were not MSDPR clients, the PGT said it determines whether the deceased had enough assets to pay funeral expenses and PGT fees. If the person did not have sufficient assets, PGT will not thoroughly search for their relatives.

According to an MSDPR spokesperson, Victoria’s coroner contacted the PGT about Scott’s death, who determined there was no estate to deal with, so the department took over and paid to have Scott cremated and his ashes buried.

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The funeral home has posted Scott’s obituary online as a courtesy, in hopes that a family member will find it. They are not legally required to do so.

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Grier had filed a missing person report with Victoria Police for Scott in 2020, and Scott’s full name and birthday were listed on the obituary page.

Since authorities knew Scott’s identity, Grier said the department shouldn’t have searched very hard if they couldn’t connect him to his son.

“They could have just asked the Victoria Police Department because I was the one who filed the missing persons report. They have my name and number,” he said.

“How did they get his real name and happy birthday to post (the obituary)? Someone had to know something.

Grier said he understands there are homeless people whose loved ones are hard or impossible to find, but that wasn’t the case here.

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“Don’t they put the effort into it? I do not understand why.

Grier said he thought it only happened to his family, but said he started hearing from other people, which is how they also found out about the deaths of loved ones .

Now he and his wife are warning other families they may need to search online if they haven’t heard from a loved one in a while.

“If you’re missing someone, google them, as weird as that sounds,” Michelle said.

Glen and Michelle Grier of Stony Plain, Alta., say they were not notified of the death of their son, Scott, in Victoria in May 2022.

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Even though he is left with so much pain and many questions, Grier hopes that sharing his experience will help change.

He speaks in the hope that other families will not find out about the death of a loved one in the same way.

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“You don’t want this to happen to other people.

“It’s such a difficult path.”

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