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Inquest order after mother dies in house fire

BC Coroners
BC Coroners' Service will hold an inquest into the death of Colette Salemink of Coquitlam
— image credit: PHOTO SUBMITTED

The BC Coroners Service will hold an inquest into the death of Coquitlam's Colette Marie Salemink.

The 59-year-old woman died on April 19, 2010 in a fire at her Burian Drive home. Her son, Blake Salemink, was charged with arson and manslaughter and was recently found not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder.

His sister, Erica Salemink, told The Tri-City News last month that her kid brother was a sweetheart who became troubled in his teenage years.

He was in and out of Royal Columbian Hospital and, later, Riverview Hospital, but he managed to finish high school and later attended cooking school on Vancouver Island.

But in early 2010 the fights between Blake and his mother became more frequent, and Coquitlam RCMP were called to attend Salemink's home several times.

On April 13, 2010 a mental health warrant was issued, which would have put Blake back in Riverview. But when he met with his caseworker two days later, the warrant wasn't executed, despite the fact that he appeared giddy and admitted to having auditory hallucinations.

Blake returned to his mother's home and, on April 17, police were called again after Blake threatened to hire a hit man to kill his mother. But when police arrived Colette told officers she didn't believe her son was a threat, and he wasn't taken into custody.

In the early morning hours of April 19, it's believed that Blake piled some old recipes on the floor of a downstairs room and set them on fire. He left in a taxi, crossed the U.S. border and headed for Mexico. Blake was arrested later that day in Oregon.

During the inquest, scheduled to take place Nov. 13 to 16 at the Burnaby Coroners Court, presiding coroner Liana Wright and a jury will hear evidence from subpoenaed witnesses to determine the facts surrounding Salemink's death.

The jury may not, by law, make any findings of legal responsibility, but it will have the opportunity to make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances in the future.

- with files from Gary McKenna

 

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