Local’s remains returned to Canada 

Struggle to pay for final trip home continues for Jamie White’s family

Rose White can still picture her son, Jamie, sitting under the garden umbrella this summer clasping a glass of water.

An ear-splitting grin reached all the way to his eyes.

"That was Jamie," said White, anguish undercutting her happy memories.

"It could be 9 a.m., 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. Whenever you decided to get up that is where you would find him, deciding what he wanted to do that day."

Those are cherished times for White and husband Brian who are now coping with the tragic task of dealing with their 27-year-old son’s accidental death in Costa Rica earlier this month.

But instead of finding comfort and solace as they deal with their grief, they are faced with questions surrounding how their strong-swimming son died and how they are going to pay the over $15,000 in bills accumulated to bring Whistler resident Jamie White’s remains home.

"They say it could be three to six months before we get the results of the autopsy," said Rose White, in an anguished voice.

When White spoke to Jamie’s best friend Drue Kosie, who was on vacation with him in Costa Rica, he said her son was just so happy to be down there it was almost irritating.

"I asked right away of they were partying and drinking but Drue said they hadn’t had anything to drink for three days," said White.

"They went for a swim and Drew passed him and went out further than where Jamie was.

"When he looked back, Jamie was taking in water and he got back to him. Jamie passed out and Drue was giving him CPR right there. And then the lifeguards got out there, and they put him on the surf-board and they gave him CPR, but there was no response.

"That is why we are doing the inquiry," she said.

"They put it down there right now as accidental, but I don’t know."

Along with all these questions there are six pages of paperwork and bills.

The family has already sent the Costa Rican authorities $3,000. Last weekend Jamie’s body was finally returned to the family. He died September 1 st .

And to add to the family’s woes, all the paperwork is in Spanish.

"I haven’t got a clue what is on there," said White.

"There is a bill for the coroner, and one for this and one for that and everything is in Spanish."

Jamie had no travel and health insurance when he left on his vacation in September. Nor does he appear to have left a will.

As the family struggled to deal with the situation they were stymied by a Costa Rican phone system which constantly failed and poor communication with local authorities and the personnel at the Canadian Embassy in the Central American country.

"I think we got three calls from the Embassy at the most," said White.

"The first week it was horrible because we kept getting a different person all the time … It was just like ‘what is happening to our son?’"

"There is just a lot to untangle right now," said White, who along with her husband, recently moved to Victoria to be closer to Jamie and her oldest son Jason and his family.

The move allowed the family to be together for the first time in five years. White recalls her husband’s pleas to cancel the idea of the move while he was still in Newfoundland selling the family home.

"But I said, ‘No. We are here for a reason," she said, heartbroken that in hindsight the reason was the magical months they spent with Jamie before his death.

"Brian said not only did he loose a son he lost his best friend because they were really, really close.

"Jamie had so many dreams. Oh my God, so many dreams. He was so excited about (the Winter Olympic Games coming in) 2010.

"He used to tell us, ‘By the time 2010 comes I will be well on my way and hopefully settled down and have kids.’

"He always told us, ‘I’m not settling down until I am 30,’ that is what he always told us. He said, ‘I am going to live life to the fullest,’ and he did.

"There was nothing like snowboarding to him. It’s all still here in his bedroom, his snowboard and his boots.

"That was the most important thing to him, Whistler and his snowboard.

He always used to tell us, ‘Mum you’d never believe the adrenaline rush of snowboarding.’"

Jamie also loved to golf and play baseball. While in Victoria this summer he joined up with a team that went on to win the championships last weekend.

"It was unbelievable," said White of championship game.

"Everybody wore Jamie’s number. I couldn’t even stay there it was just so hard.

"I really didn’t realize how many friends he had. They are calling from all over.

"It is just unbelievable how many people he touched. For a kid of 27 he had come along way."

Jamie’s parents are not alone in their grief. He touched many in Whistler.

"It didn’t matter what was happening to him he always kept a positive attitude," said roommate Shawn Tiedeman.

"He was happy, always smiling… I feel like I have lost my brother."

Whiski Jack Resorts co-worker Cheryn Pollard teamed up with Jamie’s many friends to host a fundraiser Wednesday at Tapley’s Neighbourhood Pub to help the family pay the bills.

Donations are also being accepted at the Bank of Montreal in the family’s Newfoundland home town of Channel-Port aux Basques.(Transit #1036).

"He was a truly good person who only ever wanted the best for everybody," said Pollard.

"He gave people something to aspire to because not too many people are like that."

A memorial will be held in Whistler October 20, which would have been Jamie’s 28 th birthday. Jamie’s hope was that his ashes would be scattered on Whistler Mountain.

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