In the late evening on Tuesday Sept. 2, a 19-year-old Australian was found dead in his room in staff housing after a run of the mill night on the town.
The cause of death was likely a lethal combination of cocaine and sleeping pills, which stopped his heart. The coroner's report is not yet finalized.
He was found in his bed, long hours after he had died, alone and icy cold. Less than a month later, he was buried at St. Gregory's Catholic Church on a hill overlooking a sunny valley in Kurrajong outside of Sydney, immersed in a sea of love of hundreds of family and friends.
In the weeks and months that followed, most people in Whistler remained blindly unaware a teenager, working here for a season or two, had died from a toxic mixture of drugs involving cocaine — an illicit drug that is accessible, cheap, and prolific in the resort.
Cocaine use isn't an anomaly, and Whistler isn't unique.
Just as drugs are everywhere, they are here in Whistler too. There's MDMA or E, Special K (or ketamine), GHB, acid — an alphabet of choice that can have deadly consequences.
These drugs don't have the same dangerous downtown reputation as heroin, crack and fentanyl. They are "recreational, white-collar drugs," as normal in some circles as a glass of wine or a beer. They're designed to make you happy and confident and euphoric and uninhibited. They are designed to make you want more.
It's a darker side of Whistler, though drugs like these have been here for decades, stealthily settling in to the subculture, weaseling into a town where young people come to suck the most out of life.
This is Whistler's schizophrenia — renowned pristine powder days marketed around the world, morphing into endless powder nights that can turn seedy and dangerous in a flash. But no one really wants to talk about that.
On the other side of the world Jennifer and Cees Janson were just about to find out about the dark side of Whistler — a discovery that would flip their lives upside down, forever.
The net of grief is cast
Just over an hour outside of Sydney, about 10 kilometres outside a sleepy country town called East Kurrajong, night had fallen on Wednesday Sept. 3.
Jennifer and Cees Janson are empty nesters, their three grown children making their own ways around the world. Only daughter Anneka, their eldest, was close-by in Sydney, a new mum herself, after baby George arrived three weeks earlier. Russell, 24, was studying in Singapore. Their youngest, Marty, was in Canada.
The Jansons were spending a quiet evening at home, a night like any other.
At 9:30 p.m. two police officers knocked on the door.