Inquest underway in Campbell River into death of man at Comox hospital
In the hope of determining a cause of death and creating recommendations for the future, the public inquest into the death of a man three years ago at St. Joseph's General Hospital in Comox has begun in Campbell River this week.
George Alfred Jones, 40, died Jan. 2009 after going into medical distress while detained in police cells in Courtenay. Jones was rushed to hospital, where he died the next day.
While the jury may not by law, make any finding of legal responsibility, it has the opportunity to make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances in the future.
"He was a good guy. He was very open and willing to give you the shirt off your back if you needed it. He was a very good-hearted person," said Jones' sister Debbie Darrah to media outside the courthouse.
Darrah noted her brother did suffer from seizures and had a drinking problem, along with previous dealings with the RCMP.
"(The inquest) is pulling on the heartstrings," she added. "We want to know in our hearts what happened."
Inquest counsel John Orr said the seven-person jury will examine how and why Jones died.
"And if, one of the suggestions is that it was a drug overdose ... and if it was, when did he get those drugs, when did he take them? If it was a drug overdose, the jury has to decide was it deliberate or accidental," said Orr.
He explained initially the coroner service treated Jones' death as not in custody, and a report was filed. It later got picked up on a review process that it was a required inquest, because he was in police custody, he added.
Orr noted there is no decision of guilt to be found.
"(The inquest is) just about discovering the cause of death, the classification and anything that could be done to prevent that death," he said.
The inquest is expected to last three days.