Austin Eubanks, who survived the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, was found dead Saturday at age 37.
WochitColumbine High School shooting survivor Austin Eubanks, who became an outspoken advocateÂ for addiction recovery, diedÂ of an accidental heroinÂ overdose, theÂ Routt County Coroner’s Office confirmed Friday.”Very sad,” coronerÂ Robert Ryg told USA TODAY. “We were hoping for some other medical reason but with his history we always knew that was a possibility.”Eubanks, 37, wasÂ found dead in MayÂ at his home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, during a welfare check after he failed to answer his phone.During the ColumbineÂ massacre on April 20, 1999, Eubanks, then 17, was shot twice â€“ in the hand and the knee â€“ and watched his best friend Corey DePooter die, as they took refuge under a table in their schoolâ€™s library.Austin Eubanks, a survivor of the Columbine school shooting speaks about addiction resulting from trauma during the the 11th Annual Susan Li Conference at Hope Academy Recovery High School in Indianapolis on Thursday, July 19, 2018. Â (Photo: Michelle Pemberton/IndyStar)DePooter was one ofÂ the 13 peopleÂ â€“ 12 students and one teacherÂ â€“Â killed in what wasÂ the worst school shooting in U.S. historyÂ at the time.Â While Eubanks’ physical pain subsided after a few days, he was prescribed medications and continued to take them.He struggled with addiction throughout his 20s and went through multiple treatment centers.More: Columbine survivor Austin Eubanks spoke about emotional pain and drug addiction before deathMore: ‘We’ve lost so many’: Columbine, Sandy Hook and Parkland shooting survivors struggle with suicide, guiltAfter spending 14 months in rehab, Eubanks began helping other people struggling with the same challenges. For the past several years, Eubanks worked as a speaker on addiction issues. He cut his ponytail and started wearing a waistcoat. HisÂ dress shirts coveredÂ up the colorful tattoos along his arms.He served as chief operations officer for Foundry Treatment Center and traveled the country speaking about his personal journey, as well as strategies for addressing the opioid crisis,Â according to his website.Eubanks would tell audiences that hisÂ unwillingness to feel his emotional pain led to hisÂ opiate addiction. That same type of emotional pain, he said,Â is driving an addiction pandemic in America.Eubanks “lost the battle with the very disease he fought so hard to help others face,â€ according to a statement from his family obtained byÂ KMGH-TV.â€œHelping to build a community of support is what meant the most to Austin, and we plan to continue his work,â€ the statement read. â€œAs you can imagine, we are beyond shocked and saddened and request that our privacy is respected at this time.”Contributing: TrevorÂ Hughes andÂ N’dea Yancey-BraggAutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide:Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/06/14/columbine-survivor-coroner-says-austin-eubanks-died-drug-overdose/1455288001/