The Yukon RCMP are calling a manslaughter charge they laid on March 29 the first of its kind in the Yukon.
In a release, police say the charge against 32-year-old Jared Skookum of Whitehorse relates to the April 6, 2022 opioid overdose death of 34-year-old Stephanie Pye.
Pye, who is from Watson Lake, was found deceased after emergency services were called to an address in downtown Whitehorse. An investigation lead by the Yukon RCMP’s major crimes unit was launched and it was determined that Pye died of an opioid overdose. Police say the investigation then led to the arrest of Skookum for trafficking and possession of a controlled substance later in the month that Pye died.
Police said that on March 29, they re-arrested Skookum to charge him with manslaughter in relation to Pye’s death. Police did not state whether he was present when Pye died or his connection to the drugs that killed her.
“We recognize that a lengthy period of time has passed since Stephanie’s passing, and we continue to share our condolences with the Stephanie’s family and friends. This investigation is complex and required a significant amount of time to progress to the point of supporting this charge,” a March 29 statement from the Yukon RCMP reads.
“Although this is the first charge of manslaughter related to an opioid overdose in the Yukon, the Major Crimes Unit and all other units or detachments involved have followed and will continue to follow the necessary investigative steps in all death investigations. This is the first opioid overdose death investigation that has lead to this specific outcome.”
The RCMP notice expressed the importance of preventing opioid overdoses, noting each one’s outsized negative impact in the Yukon when compared to larger centres. Police declined to provide additional information as the matter is now before the courts.