Columbine High School Shooting Survivor Austin Eubanks Found Dead at 37
Austin Eubanks, a survivor of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, was found dead in his home on Saturday, CNN reported. He was 37.
Eubanks was found during a welfare check when he didn’t answer his phone, according to Routt County, Colorado, Coroner Robert Ryg.
There is no foul play suspected and an autopsy is scheduled for Monday to determine the cause of death.
In a statement to news outlet KMGH, Eubanks’ family said he “lost the battle with the very disease he fought so hard to help others face.”
“Helping to build a community of support is what meant the most to Austin, and we plan to continue his work,” the statement continued. “As you can imagine, we are beyond shocked and saddened and request that our privacy is respected at this time.”
Eubanks was just 17 when he found himself hiding underneath a table with his best friend, Corey DePooter, in their school library after two shooters opened fire in Columbine High School.
“A teacher ran through the same doors that we just entered into the library, yelling at everybody to get under the tables, that somebody had a gun, and I remember just being in shock,” Eubanks told CNN last year.
The shooters made their way into the library where they fired under each table. Eubanks, who watched his best friend die, was shot with bullets finding his hand and knee.
In treating his injuries, Eubanks was heavily medicated, and he told CNN that he quickly developed an addiction to the pain medication after being drawn to the way it numbed his emotions following the traumatic experience.
“As a result of my injuries, I was pretty significantly medicated about 45 minutes after being shot. I remember immediately being drawn to that feeling, because it took the emotion away,” he said.
After being shot twice during the horrific school shooting that killed 12 students and one teacher, Eubanks developed an opioid addiction, and later became a public speaker dedicated to addressing the topic of substance abuse and addiction recovery.
He continued to struggle with his addiction throughout his 20’s, with multiple attempts for treatment before finding long-term recovery, according to USA Today.
In 2016, when he celebrated his fifth year of sobriety, Eubanks told PEOPLE, “It took getting to this point in my life where I think it would have value. Hopefully I can help people.”
Eubanks most recently spoke at the 2019 Connecticut Opioid and Prescription Drug Prevention Conference on May 2, according to his Twitter.