The young man was sent to Sagewalk in a try to get clean. Here is what he stated in his journal discovered after this death:
I arrived at the SageWalk office scared out of my wits. I was stripped of my belongings and clothes and given a bright orange uniform similar to those worn in prison. I was handcuffed, blindfolded and thrust into the back of an SUV for a two-hour drive into the Oregon desert where, with a large, heavy rucksack containing a sleeping bag, rice, lentils and farina (a sort of carbo¬hydrate gloop), a small tarpaulin, orange clothes and hiking boots, I was left in the ‘care’ of two of the hillbillies who accompanied us.
I at once refused to do anything they said and to my horror received a slap to the face. I told them that that was illegal but they ignored me and, as I further protested, one of them pushed me and I fell face- first to the ground, cutting my face and starting to bleed. I recall shrieking amid tears of anguish for my dad to save me but it was to no avail.
About a week into my stay, we were backpacking and there was a small rock face, maybe 10ft high, that we had to climb with our backpacks on. We had already hiked about five miles that day and I was feeling faint.
Halfway up, I lost consciousness for a second, or just lost my footing, and fell 5ft on to a rock. I landed back first and experienced an excruciating pain.
When I put my hand to my back to inspect the damage I felt a hot, thick trickle of blood. I asked for a doctor but received instead a kick to the ribs and an order to keep on hiking. The next break wasn’t for another mile-and-a-half. I have since seen doctors and had X-rays and it seems that it is a permanent injury. This makes me feel extremely bitter and upset
There were no phones so I couldn’t talk to my parents and the letters were checked before we sent them so I couldn’t tell them what was happening.
I delayed telling my parents even after I was let out because there is a policy that if the child misbehaves within two years, they can be sent back for free.
The brutality continued for two months until I was set free. It was like being born again but I carried a huge amount of resentment.
[A spokesman for Aspen Education, which owns SageWalk Wilderness School declined to comment on Freddy’s claims that he was slapped, shoved and kicked, resulting in bleeding wounds and a permanent back injury during his two-month stay.] I had asked my parents for an escape but they had not listened. They had sat by while I had endured untold physical and emotional pain.
I recall one week there when I was so overrun with emotion that something snapped and I didn’t speak for four or five days. I couldn’t. I felt so completely void. I lived in fear and so was relatively well-behaved as far as my parents could see for a few months after I got back, but then I discovered mephedrone
The cost for this stay was that he felt abandoned. It might have thrown him further into drug use.
Sagewalk closed in 2009 after a 16 year old boy died on his day at the wilderness program. Aspen Education Group is in the process of dissolving after many of their former patients have become adults willing to speak out about their experiences.
He died only 18 year old. Decide the rehab for your child with care. Seek unlimited visitation rights from day one. Support your child by your presence.
How drugs snuffed out Freddy McConnel's brilliant young life - told in his own vividly moving words (The Daily Mail)