Columbine school shooting survivor, Austin Eubanks, found dead in his Colorado home

The 37-year-old Columbine survivor died on Saturday. He had a long battle with drug addiction in his 20s.
The 37-year-old Columbine survivor died on Saturday. He had a long battle with drug addiction in his 20s. Photo credit: Left: Unknown; Right: Austin Eubanks

A survivor of the 1999 Columbine school shooting was found dead at his home in Colorado on Saturday morning (local time), 20 years after the mass shooting claimed the lives of 12 of his peers and a teacher.

Austin Eubanks, a 17-year-old student at the time of the Columbine massacre, was shot twice in the hand and knee and played dead while his best friend Corey DePooter was murdered beside him. 

Eubanks, 37, suffered a long battle with opioid addiction after becoming dependent on prescription medicine while recovering from his wounds.

Eubanks, who had two daughters, told CNN last year: "As a result of my injuries, I was pretty significantly medicated. I remember immediately being drawn to that feeling, because it took the emotion away."

Eubanks' death comes almost a month after he spoke at the 20th anniversary of the school shooting on April 20. The anniversary commemorated the 13 lives lost to the shooters, students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17.

A cross erected to commemorate the life of Eubanks' best friend, Corey DePooter, at the 20th anniversary of the shooting last month.
A cross erected to commemorate the life of Eubanks' best friend, Corey DePooter, at the 20th anniversary of the shooting last month. Photo credit: Reuters

A post-mortem is scheduled for Monday (local time). No foul play is suspected.

Throughout his 20s Eubanks struggled with the use of opioids, alcohol, cocaine, and heroin with a number of failed rehabilitation attempts. After hitting "rock bottom" Eubanks went into long-term treatment.

He told the Daily Mail that drugs became a way of coping, as they numbed the pain, grief, and survivor's guilt.

"I turned myself into an emotionless robot until I couldn't feel anything anymore... When I took those substances things felt better. I didn't cry as much, things didn't hurt as much."

Eubanks went on to work at an addiction treatment centre before becoming a prominent advocate for fighting addiction, telling his story at multiple schools and conferences across the US.

His family said Eubanks "lost the battle with the very disease he fought so hard to help others face.

"Helping to build a community of support is what meant the most to Austin, and we plan to continue his work."

At the time, the Columbine massacre was the deadliest school shooting in US history.

Eubanks kept photos of DePooter in his home and office up until his death.

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