Rhys Coppen’s family want answers a year after Fernie alleyway death

It’s been one year since 20-year-old Rhys Coppens died outside the Northern Hotel on Second Avenue, and police and Rhys’s family are still hoping a witness will come forward to shed light on what happened to him.

  • Mar. 28, 2011 3:00 p.m.

Rhys Coppens

It’s been one year since 20-year-old Rhys Coppens died outside the Northern Hotel on Second Avenue, and police and Rhys’s family are still hoping a witness will come forward to shed light on what happened to him.

Rhys was found unconscious in the alleyway next to the Fernie bar at 2:25 a.m. March 21, 2010.

He was visiting Fernie on a snowboarding trip with his older brother, Jacques, and his best friend.

“We have to live with what happened every day,” his mother Marlene Coppens told The Free Press from her home in Edmonton.

“There has to have been a witness out there that knows what happened. We are not looking for vengeance, we just want an answer.”

The RCMP said Rhys was taken by ambulance to the Elk Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The RCMP carried out extensive interviews with people that had been in the bar that night, but were never able to find out what had happened to Rhys in the final minutes of his life. Foul play was never suspected.

“It’s important for us to piece everything together, and certainly for the family as well,” said Sgt. Dave Dubnyk of the Elk Valley RCMP.

“This was a fine young man, just in Fernie to have a good time. It’s really tragic.

“We hope somebody might morally feel like coming forward, one year on, to help us and Rhys’s family figure out how he came to be in the alleyway. He had no broken bones that would indicate a fall.

“Our criminal investigation has been concluded, so this is really just to help everyone close the book on the case.”

Dubnyk said that, although there was some alcohol in Rhys’s blood, they do not believe this played a part in his death.

“He died of positional asphyxia, basically suffocation,” said Dubnyk. “Somehow he came to be lying in a position that meant he was unable to breathe.”

Marlene Coppens said she is still coming to terms with losing the youngest of her four children, and hopes that finding out what happened to him will make it easier for the family to have some closure.

The medical examiner confirmed his injuries weren’t consistent with falling off a roof or being involved in a fight, she said. No illegal or legal drugs were found in his system either.

“We know for a fact he did not fall from the roof of that building. We are thinking somebody did see something or knows something,” said Marlene.

Rhys was known for his athletic ability. He had played one season with the University of Alberta Golden Bears football team and had recently signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Calgary Dinos.

He also excelled at hockey and soccer, having travelled to England twice to play with the Vimy Ridge soccer academy.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Elk Valley RCMP at 250-425-6233.

Just Posted

Fernie joins global celebration of women

SheJumps co-founder inspires at inaugural International Women’s Snow Day celebration in Fernie

Glory for Fernie Ghostriders in four-point weekend

Riders back at home on January 25-26 for games against the Kimberley Dynamiters and Nelson Leafs

Crowsnest Pass RCMP seek help locating missing man

58-year-old Stuart David Duff was last seen on Jan. 6, 2019.

Spike in Jaffray bear calls cause for concern

In 2018 there were 38 calls about bears spotted in the Jaffray area, compared to one call in 2017.

Snow on the way for Elk Valley

Winter weather advisory issued for East Kootenay with up to 15cm of snow expected over the next week

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

China demands US drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

China detained two Canadians on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng

9 brains, 3 hearts: Some wild facts about octopuses

Things to know about the giant Pacific octopus, which is naturally found in the waters of the U.S. West coast, the Aleutian Islands and Japan

Hollywood announces 2019 Oscar nominations

Netflix has scored its first best picture nomination, something the streaming giant has dearly sought

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

Most Read