The B.C. Coroners Service is investigating the death of a 42-year-old woman from Mexico who went into medical distress while being detained by Canadian border officials at Vancouver International Airport last month.

Lucia Vega Jimenez died in hospital eight days after emergency crews were called to the airport to attend to her.

Coroner Barb McLintock said the woman had been in the custody of the Canada Border Services Agency for a few days and was transferred to the cells at the B.C. Immigration Holding Centre on Dec.19.

Things went wrong early the next morning, and an ambulance was called to the airport.

'Why has it taken  a month for any of this news to come out?' - Josh Paterson, B.C. Civil Liberties Association

McLintock says the woman was taken to several hospitals, before ending up at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital in Vancouver, where she died, several days later, on Dec. 28.

A statement issued by the Richmond RCMP said an investigation concluded there was "nothing criminal in nature in relation to this incident," and the coroner's office would be handling the rest of the investigation.

McLintock said the B.C. Coroners Service is considering the incident an in-custody death, but couldn't yet say how the woman died, or comment on whether it was a case of suicide.

"We're just not going to comment on cause or classification at this point in time," she said.

Karla Lottini, is a freelance journalist from Mexico, has been following the news of Jimenez's detainment and death closely. She told CBC News that being on the verge of deportation can make people desperate.

"It's like you are not wanted, like you don't belong, like you don't deserve to stay in a safe place," she said.

Josh Paterson, with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, questioned why Jimenez's death was only made public now.

"Well there isn't enough oversight for CBSA," Paterson said. "There is no public complaints mechanism. There is no independent civilian investigation for incidents like this. Why has it taken a month for any of this news to come out?"


  • A previous version of this story included a photo that may have appeared to be of Lucia Vega Jimenez. In fact, the image was from the television reality show Border Security: Canada's Front Line and was not directly connected to this story.
    Jan 29, 2014 6:43 PM PT
With files from the CBC's Meera Bains