First it marked the ending of the claim that commercial wilderness therapy can be safe. Sagewalk - a wilderness program - featured nationwide as a safe option for parents who had teenagers facing trouble in a modern world where temptations present themselves even inside the home when the computer is switched on, did turn out as deadly.
It was hardly a surprise as many teenagers had died in wilderness programs before. But the industry did always have some kind of explanation. Among the lame excuses were:
- It was a simple accident
- It was an unlicensed wilderness program
- It was the actions of a single employee running amok
This day they lost their bet and had to pay the price with the loss of their jobs.
But there was another ending. It was the end of the life for 16 year old Sergey Blashchishen - a boy who knew that he helped help and had reached out to his parents. What did look like an obvious choice of hospitalization in a place where he could detox and receive therapy were somewhere changed - perhaps by an educational consultant on the payroll of schools or programs - to include a stay at a wilderness program.
A deadly choice but also a tragic loss for his family who had to suffer the ultimate sacrifice - the loss of a child.
May he be remembered as a person who paid too dearly with life so families of teenagers in need for treatment may be advised better in the future?
May be rest in peace.
On the the fatality of Sergey Blashchishen at Aspen Education Group's Wilderness Camp, Sagewalk..., The Troubling Troubling Troubled Teen Industry blog