Red Deer Remand Centre death prompts methanol recommendation

Fatality inquiry findings for a man who died at Red Deer Remand Centre in 2007 recommends people in law enforcement be educated on methanol toxicity.

Fatality inquiry findings for a man who died at Red Deer Remand Centre in 2007 recommends people in law enforcement be educated on methanol toxicity.

Boris Leon Marianych, 51, of Red Deer died on Feb. 20, 2007, from methanol toxicity, commonly caused by drinking window washer fluid.

The fatality inquiry report by Judge Bert Skinner, released Thursday, said Marianych was arrested on outstanding warrants on Feb. 1 and was transferred to remand at about 10 p.m. Staff checked on him every 15 minutes through the night because of his odd behaviour “not deemed to be of a nature requiring immediate or emergency attention.”

He was found unresponsive in his cell at about 10 a.m. while efforts were being made to take him to hospital for further assessment.

A toxicologist at the inquiry, held in the spring, said methanol toxicity is rare, causing an average of six deaths annually in Alberta.

The effects of methanol can be delayed from six to 36 hours. Unless treated, death can occur shortly after symptoms of rapid breathing and blindness.

But effective treatment at this stage, “even in a hospital setting is less than 50 per cent.”

The report said despite the extensive experience of the remand staff, they had not encountered it before.

Skinner recommended peace officers, guards and health care professionals involved in law enforcement should be educated on methanol toxicity symptoms.

Another recommendation was that staff should immediately report to their superior dramatic symptom or behaviour changes related to an inmate’s medical or mental health so the inmate can be referred to an appropriate medical facility.

At the remand centre, Marianych showed signs of confusion. Sometime he was slow to respond to questions, while other times he appeared more alert. When he had problems with his vision, abdominal pain, and more confusion remand medical staff determined he should go to the hospital.

Skinner also recommended that RCMP be encouraged to continue their recent policy to record all observations of an arrested person whether or not they display unusual behaviour or symptoms. This provides a baseline for later behaviour or symptoms.

Judges presiding over fatality inquiries may make recommendations for the prevention of similar incidents, but can’t make any findings of legal responsibility.

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