Judge rules Ponoka senior died of stangulation from Lifeline chain

A provincial court judge is urging that all Lifeline chains have a breakaway cords after a Ponoka woman died when her Lifeline pendant became entangled in her walker and strangled her.

A provincial court judge is urging that all Lifeline chains have a breakaway cords after a Ponoka woman died when her Lifeline pendant became entangled in her walker and strangled her.

Provincial court judge B.D. Rosborough made the recommendation following the fatality inquiry into the death of Elizabeth Ann Bell, 73, who died on Feb. 19, 2013.

Rosborough urged “that Alberta Health Services and/or Health Canada, acting in conjunction Lifeline manufacturer Philips immediately and proactively take such steps as are necessary to replace all non-breakaway cords used in conjunction with the Lifeline with breakaway cords.”

The information was contained in a fatality inquiry report released today.

Rosborough acknowledged that there was conflicting medical testimony about the cause of death at the fatality inquiry, which was held on Nov. 15, 2014. However Rosborough was satisfied that the evidence presented was consistent with pendant strangulation.

“I have considered the evidence of both Dr. Ben Carruthers and Dr. Jeffrey Gofton in this matter and have concluded that the manner of death was asphyxia brought about when the Lifeline Bell was wearing became entangled in her walker and strangled her.”

Bell lived in a mobile home in Ponoka and was in failing health. She had used her Lifeline on several occasions to summon help when she had fallen or was ill. Lifelines have a button that when pressed summon responders through Lifeline’s Emergency Response Care Centre.

Fatality inquiries are meant to establish time, cause and manner of death. They make recommendations to prevent similar deaths. They do not establish legal responsibility.

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