Saskatchewan Coroner orders inquest into Samwel Uko’s death

The Saskatchewan Coroners service will hold an inquest into the death of Samwel Uko. The 20 year-old died after being recovered from Wascana Lake on May 21.

Uko was known to have mental illness, and went to hospital twice for treatment the day of his death, but was escorted out of hospital the second time by security.

Justice Minister Don Morgan explained that a large interest in this case prompted the chief coroner to announce the investigation in order to address family concerns and public interest. Morgan said the inquest will examine the sequence of events that led to his death.

“I’m hoping there are things that will give his family some comfort and closure. It’s a horrible thing to lose a family member,” mentioned the minister. “I’m also hoping there are some things that will give government the ability to improve processes and procedures.”

When asked when the inquest will take place or how long it would take for the results because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Morgan wasn’t sure how the investigation will be impacted by those factors.

“What [the chief coroner] did tell me was they were working through the toxicology and autopsy findings and then they will go through whatever the process is after that. But I’m not sure what his pandemic protocols are.”

The NDP spent much of the first week of question period asking for a Coroner’s inquest into Uko’s death.

In a news release, leader Ryan Meili said while they welcome the inquest, they want to see action being taken on suicide prevention in Saskatchewan.

Meili said that the inquest will provide answers as to what needs to be done to improve mental health care in the province.

“It’s about finding answers to what happened on May 21st, why Samwel was failed by our health system, and what that reveals what needs to be done in our system, ” said Meili. “Many of these things, we know already, we know the amount of time people are waiting, we know that they are dedicated mental health emergency rooms. But I think we can learn more.”

Meili added that he is incredibly disappointed about the government’s decision to defeat a private member’s bill proposing a provincial suicide prevention strategy.

Samwel’s uncle Justin Nyee said the news of the provincial inquest is welcome news for his family.

“It will provide us with the answers to a lot of questions we have, and some of the details that we don’t know,” admitted Nyee.

“That’s why we welcome it, and it’s very important that we see what happened. That too, will help other people look into it. How can a person with mental health issues, be dragged through all of this?”

(With files from Moises Canales)

More from 620 CKRM