A Whitehorse resident who died last week after accidentally falling down a flight of stairs is being remembered as a kind, loving friend who would go out of his way to help others.
Stephen ‘Gundy’ Coad, 25, was a Kwanlin Dun First Nation citizen who lived in the basement of his mother’s home on Jeckell Street. At around 9 p.m. on Jan. 1, he was hanging out with friends when he went upstairs to use the bathroom. On his way down he tripped, hitting the back of his head on the concrete floor.
Coad did not regain consciousness and his friends decided to put him in bed. They checked on him throughout the night but when Coad didn’t wake up the next morning, they called an ambulance and he was rushed to the Whitehorse General Hospital.
It was revealed that Coad had suffered a traumatic head injury as a result of the fall. By the afternoon, his brain had swelled from hemorrhaging.
A neurosurgeon declared there was no activity in Coad’s brain.
Soon after he was declared dead on the 2nd, his mother Acasia was asked whether she wanted to donate her son’s vital organs.
“His mom fought on the decision whether or not to do that, because it had never been discussed with him,” said Coad’s cousin, Doronn Fox.
Acasia ultimately agreed and Coad’s body was flown down to a hospital in Vancouver, where surgery took place on the 5th.
Extraordinarily, all five of Coad’s organs – his lungs, heart, kidneys, liver and pancreas – were successfully transplanted into five different people, something that rarely happens, Fox was told by the donor foundation.
“In the beginning I was kind of against it but now I believe it was for the best,” he said.
“He’s saving lives, helping other people.”
After the surgery, Coad’s relatives gathered to say goodbye. Fox spent two hours reading Facebook comments to his cousin.
“It was really difficult but something that needed to be done,” he said.
The foundation told the family it would fly Acasia down next year to present her with a medal in appreciation for Stephen’s organs.
Fox said he plans on gathering stories and anecdotes until then so he can present the organ recipients with a biography about his cousin, “so they know who he was,” he said.
Fox described his cousin as someone who was always available to help, no matter who needed it.
He especially loved his nine-year-old nephew Anthony, Fox said.
Just a week ago, Coad pulled his nephew aside and told him that he would always love and care for him.
“Stephen wasn’t the kind of guy who would show his emotions, but he was a very emotional person,” Fox said.
Yukon’s chief coroner Kirsten Macdonald confirmed that an investigation into Coad’s death is underway.
She planned on meeting with witnesses of the event yesterday afternoon to find out what happened, she said.
A funeral service will be held on Jan. 16 at the Kwanlin Dun Nakwataku Potlatch House. A time has not yet been determined.
Food and cash donations to the family are welcomed. People can also donate through a GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/h8hfg47g to help cover funeral and other costs.
Contact Myles Dolphin at