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This B.C. man was electrocuted due to drug psychosis. He's on the long road back

Burnaby resident Jesse van Dok as he looks today. (via Janaya Fuller-Evans)

“Life can get good.” That’s the message Jesse van Dok offers in the hopes it will dissuade those who are considering turning to drugs.

Van Dok, a recovering drug addict, knows the perils of using drugs and what they can make you do.

“I was a very successful chef. I worked on Salt Spring Island at a four-star restaurant there,” he said. “I had a family. And because of my drinking, my family and me got broken up.”

He then went on to use drugs. His drug of choice was intravenous cocaine.

“So I finally lost everything,” he said.

He reached out for help on social media and ended up at a recovery home in Surrey. However, after a month and a half he went with a friend to the Downtown Eastside. He relapsed.

“It lasted for about two days. During the two days, I was in psychosis because of the drug use,” he said, adding he sold everything he had of value on him at the time, to buy more drugs.

“It was full psychosis, which is a scary thing,” van Dok said. “You’re hearing things and seeing things that aren’t there.”

He ended up at the BC Hydro substation in Chinatown.

The voices in his head told him to try to get in.

“I scaled this gate and went inside and started jumping around a transfer station, which is not good,” he said.

jesse-van-dok-burnsJesse van Dok's electrical burns. (via Contributed)

A police officer tried to stop van Dok but was unsuccessful.

“I was up on the structure and he yelled to get down,” van Dok said, adding he didn’t remember what happened next but pieced it together from reports and speaking to the police. “I jumped, I didn’t look, and landed on a 230,000 volt transformer.”

There was a loud bang and an explosion, he said.

“Somehow I survived the explosion but it did light me on fire,” he said. “I climbed down and ran over to the fence where the officer was yelling for me.”

The officer put him out with a fire extinguisher.

The first thing I really remember is running around screaming, and just the most agonizing pain that I’ve ever felt in my life,” van Dok said.

When the police were finally able to get him out, he ran for the ambulance.

“I was in a chemically induced coma for three days, and two and a half weeks in ICU at Vancouver General Hospital on full life support,” van Dok said.

For the first week and a half, the doctors didn’t think he’d live, he said.

His sister, who worked at the hospital, was at his bedside every day, van Dok said.

“I am so lucky to be alive,” he said.

He was in the burn ward for a month and a half, and at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre for two and a half months as his arm was welded at his side.

He had two blood transfusions and three skin grafts.

“You would think jumping on 230,000 volts would stop you from doing drugs – no,” he said, adding he was using when he was at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre.

“I fought it for quite a few years, in the end, the one thing that did save me is a relationship with God,” he said. He’s been clean for nearly a year.

“I feel like an entirely different person,” van Dok said.

He is about to head out to his dream job, working as a chef at a camp near Prince George, he said. And he’s also in a relationship with a holistic nutritionist.

“I have an amazing lady,” he said.

“I hope people think twice about picking up drugs when they hear my story because it’s not just ODs that can kill you,” he added.

Van Dok is grateful to the team at the Vancouver General Hospital burn ward, in particular Dr. Anthony Papp. He’s also thankful for the police, firefighters and paramedics who saved him.

“Our service workers are just amazing,” he said.

Van Dok shared his story on behalf of the campaign for the Hometown Heroes Lottery.

The Hometown Heroes Lottery raises funds for Vancouver General Hospital, the University of British Columbia Hospital, GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and Vancouver Community Health Services. They also go to Burn Fund programs.

— Janaya Fuller-Evans, Burnaby Now