‘Mitch had a heart of gold’

Celebration of life will honour 23-year-old Mitchell Fleischacker Saturday

Mitchell Fleischacker in Cuba earlier this year. Fleischacker died Aug. 12 after a suspected drug overdose led to a fatal heart attack.

Mitchell Fleischacker in Cuba earlier this year. Fleischacker died Aug. 12 after a suspected drug overdose led to a fatal heart attack.

Even though a formal funeral was held for Mitchell Fleischacker back in his hometown of Stettler, Alta., his close-knit group of friends on the Peninsula where he’d most recently lived will be remembering him in a more celebratory fashion.

“It’s going to be a real celebration of his life,” said Frank Stevens, the father of the family with whom Fleischacker lived. “We’re going to have all the people there who mattered to Mitch and it’s not going to be a sad thing. We want to do what he would have wanted, which is a celebration.”

Fleischacker, 23, recently attended Shambhala Electronic Music Festival in Salmo, B.C. where it is suspected he may have overdosed on drugs which led to a fatal heart attack on Aug. 12. Stevens and his wife, Dallas were listed as his next of kin and received the call about his death.

“I’ll never forget the look on my wife’s face when she came downstairs crying,” said Stevens. “It was just such a shock for us, Mitch was like our adopted son. I had just spoken to him on the Friday night and we got the call Sunday that he’d passed. It was just very, very sad.”

Fleischacker moved to Sidney five years ago to be with Dallas’ daughter, Carley, who he was dating at the time. The two were high school sweethearts when they both lived in Alberta.

“He moved in with us and Carley and really became our adopted son,” explained Stevens. “Mitch had a heart of gold and was always trying to please or help out in any way around the house. He was a tall blue eyed guy who always caught the attention of the ladies,” he laughed. “He was really just an awesome kid.”

During his time in Sidney with Stevens and his wife, Fleischacker worked at the Charles Dickens cold beer and wine store, and more recently as a cladder with Great White Cladding and Decking Ltd.

“He was a nice guy, I was absolutely floored when I found out [about his death],” said Danny White, owner of the company. “I didn’t know him that well, but he was a good worker and a great guy. He walked in off the street and was so eager I gave him a job on the spot.”

Stevens said Fleischacker seemed to have really found his niche in the construction trade.

“He worked really hard before his death,” he said.

“Mitch just loved working at big heights and with big tools. He also loved camping and anything to do with the outdoors and people. But most of all, Mitch loved being with people,” Stevens said, adding that it was one of the reasons Fleischacker attended Shambhala.

“He’s been every year to the festival for the last few years, at least. He loved it,” he said.

Stevens and his wife are hosting the celebration of Fleischacker’s life on Saturday, Aug. 25, at their home at 2037 Ardwell Ave. Anyone who knew Fleischacker is welcome, said Stevens.

“We just want to do something for him that celebrates him and the impact he had on our lives,” said Stevens. “Our door was always open. I’ll really miss waking up and seeing Mitch’s big size 14 feet hanging over the end of the couch.”