Pemberton, Mount Currie grapple with second murder in two years at the same site 

Mount Currie man charged with second degree murder

Less than a day after a community task force met to outline ways to deal with substance abuse in Pemberton and Mount Currie, a 61-year-old man lay dead in a notorious local party area.

Matthew Pierre’s death came almost two years to the day that 15-year-old Ross Leo died late at night in the same area.

In both cases, a fellow community member (or members in the case of Leo) was charged with murder.

"For it to happen again, people are really starting to question what’s really going on in there," said Brandon Hestdalen, co-ordinator of the Pemberton/Mount Currie Drug and Alcohol Task Force.

Police are still investigating what happened in the wooded area behind the Signal Hill Elementary School where Pierre died late on the night of Wednesday, April 28 or early the following morning.

The RCMP got a phone call about the death at 9 a.m. on Thursday morning.

Later as they were heading back to the office, they picked up 38-year-old Gary Duane Jim and charged him with second degree murder.

"We picked him up in Pemberton," said Whistler RCMP Staff Sergeant Hilton Haider.

"He more or less presented himself.… They just happened to see him walking down the road and picked him up."

Police suspect alcohol is involved in the death though they cannot confirm that until the toxicology report comes back.

Pierre’s death has highlighted the need to address drug and alcohol issues in the neighbouring communities of Pemberton and Mount Currie.

"What happened with Matthew over in Pemberton just stresses the urgency of the work that we’re doing and let’s us know how prudent it is to continue to move on," said Hestdalen, who was hired at the beginning of the year as the co-ordinator of the task force.

Two years ago when Leo was murdered the two communities started to come together and talk about drug and alcohol issues.

After a period of healing, the drug and alcohol task force was formed, focusing its efforts on the ill-famed wooded area behind the Pemberton elementary school.

"(The task force) quickly realized that the problem (was) bigger that just a few guys drinking in the woods, kind of thing," said Hestdalen.

"Drug and alcohol abuse is a broad issue and it can’t be handled haphazardly. You can’t just start doing things randomly and expect change to happen. You need to do some proper consultation."

Their next step was to apply for a grant from the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse, which allowed them to hire Hestdalen as a co-ordinator.

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