STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A Colorado man who survived the 1999 Columbine school shooting and later became an advocate for fighting addiction has died.
Routt County Coroner Robert Ryg said Saturday that 37-year-old Austin Eubanks died overnight at his Steamboat Springs home.
There were no signs of foul play. A Monday autopsy was planned to determine the cause of death.
Eubanks was shot in the hand and knee in the Columbine attack that killed 12 classmates and a teacher, including Eubanks’ best friend.
He became addicted to drugs after taking prescription pain medication while recovering from his injuries. He later worked at an addiction treatment center and travelled the U.S. telling his story.
Eubanks was featured prominently in the rollout of a Colorado program to end stigma around addiction called the “Lift the Label” campaign.
“The stigma of addiction has played a significant role in allowing this public health crisis to reach pandemic levels,” Eubanks said in a statement when the effort was rolled out. “Addiction is the only disease where we commonly wait until it’s at the highest level of acuity before deciding to treat it, and by then, it’s often too late. Eliminating the stigma associated with the disease of addiction is essential in improving early intervention, and ultimately reducing the loss of life we’re currently seeing.”
Eubanks’ family says in a statement that he “lost the battle with the very disease he fought so hard to help others face,” KMGH-TV reports.
The family added: “We thank the recovery community for its support. As you can imagine, we are beyond shocked and saddened and request that our privacy is respected at this time.”
Colorado Sun staff writer Jesse Paul contributed to this report.