Dates set for upcoming fatality inquiries

Dates for fatality review hearings have been set and others are in the works for five Central Albertans who have died in the last five years.

Dates for fatality review hearings have been set and others are in the works for five Central Albertans who have died in the last five years.

The inquiries are intended to determine the circumstances surrounding deaths, including the cause, manner and the identity of the deceased.

The fatal inquiry into the death of Christopher Michael Sisler, 33, of Sundre is scheduled for Sept. 25 in Didsbury provincial court.

Sisler died on April 13, 2010, and was involved in a single-vehicle rollover following a police pursuit. Sisler was ejected from the vehicle and died from his injuries.

The hearing into the death of Colin Cassell, 31, of Sylvan Lake, is scheduled from April 29 to May 3, 2013, in Fort McMurray provincial court.

On May 21, 2008, Cassell underwent emergency neurosurgery after a CT scan showed bleeding on his brain. His condition deteriorated and he died the same day. On May 8, Cassell had been detained in police custody, and then assessed at hospital after complaints of severe headache. He was discharged on May 9.

The inquiries into the deaths of Craig Christians, 43, of Stettler and Richard David Jacknife, 47, of Red Deer are among two of 43 hearings across the province that are waiting for scheduling, according to Alberta Justice and Solicitor General’s website.

On May 5, 2007, Christians was driving on a highway in his taxi cab when he failed to make a slight turn and drove head-on into an oncoming truck.

On Nov. 4, 2010, Jacknife, who was confined to a wheelchair, fell down a basement stairwell at his group home in Red Deer. He was transported to hospital, where he died on Nov. 11, 2010.

The fatality inquiry into the death of Bowden Institution inmate David Tung Louie, 38, of Innisfail is pending resolution of criminal matters. Tung was stabbed during an altercation with other inmates. He died on June 19, 2011.

This week, the report for Kaelyn Sahra Jalayne Shelton, 23, was released. Shelton died on Nov. 21, 2008, in Red Deer following a single-vehicle rollover on Spruce Drive after a short police chase on 48th Avenue. The judge ruled the death was accidental and the officer followed proper pursuit procedures. The report also indicated the woman had high levels of cocaine in her system. No recommendations were made to prevent similar deaths.

Provincial court judges preside over the hearings and may make recommendations to prevent similar incidents. After an inquiry, the judge releases a written report.

The judge, however, does not determine legal responsibility.

A fatal inquiry cannot begin until all investigations, criminal charges and appeal matters have been resolved.

Mandatory inquiries under the Fatality Inquiries Act may include the death of a person who dies in police custody, on and off correctional institution premises, as a result of the use of force by a peace officer while on duty, deaths of involuntary mental hospital patients and deaths of foster children.

Inquiries will be held in all cases, unless the Fatality Review Board is satisfied the death was due to natural causes. Other mandatory cases under the act may include accidental deaths and deaths resulting from the use or abuse of alcohol and drugs.

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