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Death inquest for inmate at Regina jail begins


An inquest into the death of Vance Bellegarde, who died while in custody at the Regina Correctional Centre in August 2020 began on Monday.

On Aug. 5 2020, the Regina Police Service (RPS) was called by security personnel at the Regina General Hospital after an altercation between Bellegarde, 39, and security officers.

According to reports, it appeared Bellegarde and his friend were intoxicated when security asked them to leave the hospital before threats were uttered.

Police then located Bellegarde and his friend about one block away, arrested him and charged him with two counts of uttering threats.

Bellegarde was detained in police custody and held overnight before he was to be transported to appear in provincial court the next day.

While in holding cells at the courthouse that morning, Bellegarde suffered what was described as a seizure by witnesses. Sheriff’s saw and attended to him until EMS staff took over, loaded him onto a stretcher and transported him to the Regina General Hospital at around 10:15 a.m.

According to the report, he went into the emergency room and was seen by several medical professionals who administered tests based on the information provided by the EMS workers.

After about three hours, he was medically cleared by Regina General and was then transported to the Correctional Centre to await his court appearance.

Bellegarde was admitted, screened and eventually placed in his cell on the second tier of the centre around 4:30 p.m. which he shared with another inmate.

According to the information provided, Bellegarde took part in supper at around 5 p.m. and when the hourly check was completed by correctional officers at 5:45 p.m., everything appeared to be fine.

Upon the next hour check, the correctional officer noted that Bellegarde did not appear to be breathing, called for another guard and entered the cell. They could not detect a pulse and called for help.

EMS arrived around 7:02 p.m. and tried lifesaving measures, but Bellegarde could not be resuscitated and was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m.

Monday morning saw six jurors selected and they heard from the coroner, Dr. Andreea Nistor, who deemed Bellegarde’s death undetermined.

According to Nistor, there were too many factors that one cause of death could not be concluded.

She said based on her findings Bellegarde was overweight, his heart was enlarged and his lungs had some scarring from previous disease, but not enough cause death.

She also concluded that he was on methadone, which is prescribed to patients combating addiction. At the time he was admitted to hospital, the levels found in his system were deemed safe, but during the autopsy, they were said to be very high.

Nistor said this sometimes occurs post-mortem, especially when the body has been sitting for a few days, which it had.

The autopsy was performed on Aug. 10.

Nistor stated, that sometimes patients who have seizures can have repeat seizures and those who are used to drinking large amounts of alcohol, can experience seizures due to withdrawal.

More details to come… Top Stories

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