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Coroner’s office investigating 13 potential exposure deaths since November
Published Wednesday, March 13, 2019 2:40PM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, March 13, 2019 6:56PM CST
The Saskatchewan Coroners Service is investigating 13 deaths since November that may have been the result of hypothermia or exposure to the elements.
The 13 deaths were all across the province, the coroner’s office says. The coroner hasn’t received all the toxicology or pathology reports yet, so can’t confirm if all 13 deaths were due to hypothermia.
The number is slightly lower than the province has seen in the past two years. In 2016-2017, there were 16 deaths related to hypothermia and exposure. Last winter, there were 14 reported deaths.
The highest in the past 12 years was the winter of 2010-2011, when 23 people died from exposure in Saskatchewan.
This winter was noticeably cold, which Chief Coroner Clive Weighill says may have led to people being more careful than in past winters.
“We’re starting to see a downward trend,” he said. “There were higher numbers back around 2011, 2012. I think the strategies they have in many of the cities now, the cold weather strategies are really playing a part in helping us reduce. Back in 2011-2012, we were seeing more people freezing in urban areas than in rural, and now that has changed on us in the past few years.”
Weighill says drugs or alcohol play a role in about 50 per cent of exposure death cases. This year, Weighill’s office has received toxicology reports in five deaths, and drugs and alcohol were not a factor in those five deaths.
It takes around four or five months to receive toxicology reports, the coroner says, so it may be several months before the investigation into the 13 deaths is complete.