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Alaska News

Parents wish son hadn't been left alone to die

  • Author: Zaz Hollander
  • Updated: July 7, 2016
  • Published November 27, 2013

MEADOW LAKES -- Matthew Scott grew up in a light-filled cedar home built by his father and filled with plants by his mother, a welcoming place in a lake-studded subdivision among thick birch and spruce about five miles off Parks Highway.

His parents called their son a loyal, fun-loving and sometimes reckless 20-year-old who did crazy stunts like riding skateboards off the back deck with his buddies but also a trusted confidante in hard times. He loved to ski. He fished and hunted with his dad.

Debbie Hurd and Dan Scott say they grieve his loss every day.

Scott was 20 when he died in April 2012 of an overdose of methylone, a synthetic ecstasy designer drug that's popular on the club circuit, at parties and at concerts. He became the first Alaskan to die after taking the drug, known as bath salts or Molly, but it's killed numerous young people in the Lower 48.

Scott's death played into the federal criminal case against Robin Gattis, the 20-year-old Wasilla man scheduled to be sentenced for a drug conspiracy charge in U.S. District Court on Dec. 5.

Federal prosecutors allege Gattis provided pills to Scott and let him die from an overdose without summoning help because he didn't want the attention of authorities, according to documents filed this week as part of the case.

That's the thing Matt Scott's parents just can't get past.

"I'll never be able to forgive him for leaving my son," said Dan Scott, a lanky retired general contractor and fishing guide. "All he had to do was call 911 and then he could of left. He left him there to die alone."

Everything would be different if that had happened, even if her son ended up with brain damage in the emergency room, said Hurd, a waitress at Settlers Bay Lodge who's kept her Boston accent despite 35 years in Alaska.

"We know Matt took those drugs and chose to take them so we're not mad at Robin for that," she said. "My biggest gripe is when he was dying, he didn't do the right thing. How can you leave somebody because you're so worried you're going to get caught with your drugs?"

Matt Scott's photos are all around the family home: cradling a puppy after a soccer practice; wearing goofy bunny ears and a big grin; holding up a 63-pound Little Susitna River king salmon. His dad taped some more photos right next to the coffee pot so he can say "good morning" every day. Matt, who wanted to study psychology at the University of Alaska Anchorage to help people and understand his own emotions, moved to Anchorage in January 2012. His parents didn't like him living on his own, but he wouldn't be deterred.

Scott met Robin Gattis about eight months before he died, when Gattis rented a house in the neighborhood, Hurd said. They weren't close friends. Matt didn't use hard drugs like heroin or methamphetamine, she said. He smoked pot and apparently did "Molly" on a recreational basis on the weekends.

Hurd said she tried to confront her son about the drugs but never quite reached him.

She and his father both hope his death saves other lives by showing how dangerous methylone really is.

Hurd said she talked through the grief that engulfed her after Matt died. She kept all his drawings, his baby blankets to pass on to grandchildren that now will never be.

His father is quieter about it -- and a little angrier.

Matt was their only child.

"I mean, think about it -- this is the end of the line," Hurd said, as Scott sat next to her on a couch and stared at the floor. "Your whole hope and future and everything you had is over. Matt's future was our future."

Reach Zaz Hollander at or 257-4317.


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