Austin Eubanks, who was shot at the 1999 Columbine High School mass shooting, has passed away. The 37-year-old addiction recovery expert was found at his residence in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He died sometime Friday night or Saturday morning, Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said in a Denver Channel report. The cause of death remains unknown. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.
Eubanks was a student a Columbine when two gunmen opened fire, killing 12 students and one teacher. He, and other students hid under a table in the library, he told CNN in a 2018 report. The shooters, however, found the room, and started firing under the tables. Eubanks survived getting shot in the hand and knee, but his best friend died.
He said that the event led to an opioid addiction that lasted into his 20s. Eubanks said he used drugs as a way to medicate his grief.
“As a result of my injuries, I was pretty significantly medicated about 45 minutes after being shot,” he said. “I remember immediately being drawn to that feeling, because it took the emotion away.”
Eubanks spent the last years of his life helping others fight addiction as a personal speaker and as an executive for several treatment organizations. One of these groups was The Foundry. A LinkedIn under his name said he served as Chief Operating Officer until March.
“Austin was an invaluable part of Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat, helping extend our message of hope to a national audience,” The Foundry said in a statement to Law&Crime. “Our hearts are heavy with news of his passing and are thinking of his family and friends at this time.”
Stunning news, just confirmed: Columbine survivor Austin Eubanks, 37, died overnight in his home in Steamboat Springs. Cause unknown. We’d just interviewed him weeks ago about his struggle with opioids after he was injured & watched his best friend die 20 years ago at Columbine https://t.co/Kt58f7hueI
— Jeremy Hubbard (@JeremyHubbard) May 18, 2019
Eubanks “lost the battle with the very disease he fought so hard to help others,” his family said in a statement obtained by Denver Channel. “Helping to build a community of support is what meant the most to Austin, and we plan to continue his work. As you can imagine, we are beyond shocked and saddened and request that our privacy is respected at this time.” [Screengrab FOX31 Denver]