Tyrell Vail

He had a huge heart and was always fighting for the underdog.

Tyrell Vail Tyrell Vail

By Julie Vail, mother of Tyrell Vail

Tyrell Vail died May 16, 2016, alone in his vehicle in a Tim Hortons parking lot. He grew up a happy child and always made friends very easily. He was not a bit prejudiced or biased, and did well in school. Tyrell played hockey, went to cubs, and later joined army cadets—which he loved—and was soon dreaming of a life in the Armed Forces.

He was a giving person and would always help anyone who needed it. In his early 20s when he was single and first joined the Armed Forces, he would help out any friend that was in need. Young women who were his friends knew that if they were having problems with an abusive boyfriend or someone was bothering them, Tyrell would be the first to protect them if they needed. He was a boxer and not afraid to stick up for the underdog. He had a huge, generous heart.

In high school, Tyrell started experimenting with drugs, including cannabis, alcohol, and ecstasy, which eventually progressed to Dilaudid and Percocets. After graduating, he soon realized he needed to get away from the people he was hanging around and decided to join the Army. He went to basic camp where he did well—never used once. After graduation, he was stationed at a base 45 km from home, and it wasn’t long until he was back using substances.

The Army sent him to rehab and he was good for a while but soon relapsed. This continuing cycle of relapse/recovery went on for five years. The Army sent him to a mental health specialist, but financial challenges, several relationships, and being kept from his daughter proved too much. He overdosed either accidentally or on purpose. We will never know, but the number of different drugs in his body at the time of death was too much for him to survive.

READ MORE: Tyler was also a talented athlete. His winters were spent playing hockey and the summers were spent playing baseball.

Weeks after he died, I discovered Moms Stop the Harm online while researching the substances found in his body. It changed my life. Coming from a small town where no one talks about substance use, it was so helpful in my grief to see that my family was not alone. Ours was, unfortunately, one of many; and when we need to talk, we all have each other. I’m so thankful for these brave women in my life.

Tyrell leaves behind his two daughters, girlfriend, mother, father, brother, and other family members and friends who miss him dearly—everyday. We will forever miss his big, welcoming smile and huge, generous heart. Such a loss of a good man and soldier.

About Regulation Project

The Regulation Project is an international collaboration to advocate and educate for the legal regulation of drugs.