Inquest into Salemink death makes 16 recommendations

Colette, Blake and Erica in a family photo taken in 2007.  - TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO
Colette, Blake and Erica in a family photo taken in 2007.
— image credit: TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

Police and health authorities need to develop a coordinated approach to dealing with people suffering from mental illness, said the jury at the coroner's inquest into the death of Coquitlam resident Colette Salemink.

Salemink died after her mentally ill son, Blake Salemink, who was on leave from Riverview Hospital, set fire to the family home in the spring of 2010. Earlier this year after a trial, a B.C. Supreme Court judge found Blake Salemink not guilty by reason of mental disorder of arson and manslaughter, and the man has resided at the Colony Farm Psychiatric Hospital ever since.

The jury in the inquest, which concluded Thursday, made 16 recommendations in order to prevent similar deaths in the future.

The jury recommended that Coquitlam RCMP, Port Moody Police Department and Fraser Health establish a memorandum of understanding that will coordinate the agencies' approach to dealing with people with mental illness; resources and information should be shared 24 hours a day and a copy of the recommendations should be used for training purposes for general duty officers.

The recommendations also include pairing police with psychiatric nurses, for a trial period, to deal with patients who have violated the conditions of their extended leave from mental health facilities.

More to come…


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