Date rape drug surfaces 

Whistler resident loses a night after slipped potentially lethal drug

April Solonyka’s Whistler nights are much the same. After getting off work as the general manager of Elements at 10:30, she stops by to Maxx Fish, the pub where her partner Jim Button tends bar, chats with friends and locals until closing time and then heads home.

But Tuesday, Jan. 10 was different because Solonyka has no memory of the night. She thinks someone slipped gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) into her drink.

"I have no recollection of a 10-hour period," Solonyka said.

GHB is a colourless, odourless central nervous system depressant. According to medical health officer Dr. Paul Martiquet, it is "dangerously unpredictable with side effects that can include coma and death." When combined with alcohol, the drug causes memory loss and blackouts.

"The effects hit with no warning and can look a lot like drunkenness," Martiquet said. "Within 10 minutes the victim begins to feel dizzy, disoriented and may feel nauseated."

The drug dissipates from the body within 24 hours, making it almost impossible to trace unless quick action is taken.

Because she has worked in Whistler restaurants for four years and has a strong network of friends and co-workers, Solonyka has been able to piece together the lost evening except for a two-hour period between two and four a.m. when Button arrived home to find her unconscious on their bed, naked from the waist down.

"He thought I was dead," she said. "My breathing was shallow and he had to shake me to wake me up."

Solonyka, 28, had spent the evening socializing with friends and staff at Maxx Fish. The bar was full of young Americans up for the week and Solonyka had also chatted with two American men in their late 20s. When they asked her where to go to find a crowd closer in age she offered to walk them to nearby Savage Beagle and Garfinkel’s. Although she remembers walking the men to the Savage Beagle, she doesn’t remember going to Garfinkel’s or back to meet with Button two hours later.

A sturdy 5’3", Solonyka says alcohol was not a factor. Staff at both establishments said when she left she did not appear inebriated. When she met up with Button shortly before 2 a.m. she chatted briefly with him then abruptly stood up and said she had to leave.

"Normally I would wait for him to close up and we’d go home together. But I just left without hugging or kissing him goodbye."

She left her car parked at the bus loop and walked a short distance to their Whistler Cay Heights home.

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