The former spouse of a man who died of a heart attack at the Red Deer Remand Centre last January is anxiously waiting for answers on what happened when police first arrested him.
Carole Korth of Hughenden, a village 50 km south of Wainwright, said she wants to know whether her former partner, Terrence Douglas Poulton, may have asked for a doctor when police picked him up. She said the 49-year-old man had a history of heart problems and always carried heart medication with him.
Police arrested him after believing he was intoxicated, but autopsy results show a painkiller, oxycodone which has a brand name of Oxycontin, may have made him appear intoxicated.
An autopsy report obtained by the Advocate shows he died of atherosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease, and that oxycodone intoxication also contributed to his death.
On Jan. 20, Poulton was taken to the remand centre by RCMP after he was arrested without incident in Riverside Meadows at about 9:20 p.m. and a few hours later at 1:40 a.m. on Jan. 21, Poulton was found unresponsive.
Korth, mother of the couple’s twin 15-year-old daughters, is waiting for a public fatality inquiry held through Alberta Justice. Judges presiding over fatality inquiries may make recommendations for the prevention of similar incidents, but can’t make any findings of legal responsibility.
“I am wondering what the holdup is — for three months, they’ve had the autopsy and toxicology reports,” she said.
Alberta Justice was unavailable for comment on when an announcement of a fatality inquiry will be made. Typically, inquiries can take a couple of years to occur because thorough investigations must be done.
The autopsy on Poulton was done on Jan. 21 in Calgary.
Calgary medical examiner Dr. Sam Andrews revealed in his report that emergency medical service was called but resuscitation was unsuccessful on Poulton.
“Apparently he was in the cell alone and had been arrested as he was found intoxicated in a snow bank near a road,” wrote Andrews. “He had a past medical history significant for intravenous drug use and drug-seeking behaviour after a severe motor vehicle crash.”
The autopsy report also revealed there were no injuries to account for death.
Toxicology analysis revealed an elevated concentration of oxycodone and a number of therapeutic concentrations of amitriptyline, diazepam, gabapentin and carbamazepine. Metoprolol and terbinafine were also detected.
“The concentration of oxycodone was higher than expected for the prescribed dose,” says the autopsy report.
Individuals can develop a tolerance to lower doses of the drug over time and require higher doses to get a therapeutic effect, said Andrews.
“The decedent had been prescribed oxycodone for some time and was likely tolerant to the detected concentration but it may still have resulted in him appearing intoxicated,” said Andrews.
A toxicology report revealed that Poulton had a prescription for the painkiller Oxycontin, a brand name for a time-release form of oxycodone. He was to take 40 mg of the drug, three times a day.
“Of the 90 tablets issued, only 40 were recovered leaving at least 42 tablets unaccounted for,” said the toxicology report.
Korth said her former spouse always carried heart medication with him.
A heart attack in 1998 sidelined him, and serious problems began soon afterwards.
She had been “back and forth” with Poulton about six months before his death.
“He did overmedicate at times,” she said.
Poulton had financial problems as well and at one point, didn’t want to run a business in Consort anymore. He shut it down, but had trouble finding a new career.