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'It just takes one bad dose': Coroner rules NDG fixture Sean Abbott died from overdose

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A beloved man who was a fixture on the streets of Montreal's Notre-Dame-de-Grace neighbourhood died last year from a combination of street drugs in his system, including fentanyl, a coroner has ruled.

Sean Abbott fell ill on a sidewalk after midnight on Sept. 18, 2022 and asked a bystander to call 911. He was rushed to hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

In the days after his passing, around 100 people gathered near the flowerbeds at Parc Girouard to remember the 38-year-old and share stories of the man known by many as "the king of NDG."

A coroner report that has not yet been made public but obtained by CTV News showed that there were traces of cocaine, fentanyl and alcohol in Abbott's blood. There were no signs of trauma and the family reported no history of self-harm.

His death was ruled accidental.

NDG residents gathered in Parc Girouard on Sept. 24, 2022 just days after the death of Sean Abbott in a vigil to honour his memory (Luca Caruso-Moro, CTV News).

Abbott, who spent much of his life homeless, was beloved among locals, who crossed paths with him at his usual spot -- the dollar store near the intersection of Sherbrooke and Wilson. Those who knew him described him as a kind, smiling socialite who rarely forgot people's names.

His longtime friend, Michelle Jette, said the cause of death brings some closure, but said what happened to him is a cautionary tale for people living in vulnerable situations.

"It just takes one bad dose, one hot dose to kill you and rip you from the people you love," she said Thursday.

Jette said she tried to help him with his addiction issues and to find him housing and work, but was sometimes faced with resistance.

Now that he's gone she wants people living with similar challenges to know that help is out there.

"You can always seek for help. Sean felt that he was hopeless, that he couldn't change. But he could have," she said, overcome with emotion.

"Even if you feel no one's there you've still got yourself. I think Sean … didn't value himself in that way. And I'm really sad he couldn't change that in his life and he can't change it now. Take care of yourself. People love you. There's someone out there who cares about you."

Thinking back to the community vigil last September, she said she was overwhelmed by the turnout and the nearly $3,000 that was raised to support his family. To honour his life, the community held a clothing drive to donate sweaters and warm jackets to people in need.

She said it spoke to the impact Abbott had on the people who came to know him.

Residents put flowers, pictures, and cards at the base of a tree located at the home intersection of Sean Abbott during a daytime vigil on Sept. 25, 2022 (Luca Caruso-Moro, CTV News)

A makeshift memorial set up at the base of a tree near his spot after his passing remains there today. 

Over the years, it had become known in the community as Sean's tree. 

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