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Mother of woman found frozen days after leaving Winnipeg hospital wants answers

The mother of a 29-year-old woman who was supposed to be in a Winnipeg hospital wants to know how her daughter's body, frozen when it was discovered, ended up behind an apartment building.

Health authority is investigating incident at Seven Oaks Hospital and hopes to meet with the family

The mother of a 29-year-old woman who was supposed to be in a Winnipeg hospital wants to know how her daughter's body, frozen when it was discovered, ended up behind an apartment building. 2:30

The mother of a 29-year-old woman who was supposed to be in a Winnipeg hospital wants to know how her daughter's body, frozen when it was discovered, ended up behind an apartment building.

"I'm really, really angry right now at the hospital that failed to keep her safe," said Eleanor Sinclair.

Sinclair said her daughter, Windy Gayle Sinclair, was found dead just days after she was taken to Seven Oaks Hospital by ambulance on Christmas Day and went missing shortly thereafter.

Winnipeg police were called to the area of the 300 block of Furby, south of Portage Avenue, after receiving a call around 8 a.m. local time on Thursday. A body was found frozen near a shed behind an apartment block.

Police remained at the scene for several days. A witness told CBC News that a tarp and heater were used to warm the area because the person was frozen to the ground.

The Winnipeg Regional Health authority is investigating and hopes to meet soon with the family.

Police would not confirm the identity of the deceased, but family members have told CBC News it was Windy Sinclair, a mother of four children between ages four and 11.

Police said the death is not being investigated as a homicide, but weren't able to determine the cause.

The temperature on Thursday morning was –28 C, and there was an extreme cold warning for much of last week and into the weekend.

Eleanor Sinclair says her daughter was found dead just days after she was taken to Seven Oaks Hospital by ambulance on Christmas Day, and went missing shortly thereafter. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Eleanor Sinclair said her daughter was taken to Seven Oaks by ambulance after Windy called 911 herself while high on crystal meth. 

"[The paramedics] were talking to her, asking her questions … half the time she was incoherent, like you couldn't really tell what she was saying," she said.

Sinclair said her daughter struggled with drug addiction for years and she didn't think she had slept at all the night before.

She said Windy was taken to hospital with only a T-shirt, leggings, running shoes and a winter coat and that paramedics told her that Windy would be sent home from hospital in a cab when she was released. 

When Eleanor called the hospital the next day, she said she was told by staff that her daughter was treated and released, but she never returned home.

After contacting her daughter's friends and other hospitals, Eleanor Sinclair said she called Seven Oaks again on Dec. 27. At that time she was told that Windy had been treated but left on her own, and that hospital staff didn't know where she went. 

"'We don't keep tabs on people that leave the hospital,' that's exactly what they told me," said Sinclair.

Winnipeg police say a person was found dead last week, but haven't said what caused the death. It is not being investigated as a homicide. ( Holly Caruk/CBC )

She said she opened a missing persons report with police that day, and contacted the Winnipeg Bear Clan to help search for her missing daughter.

Police came to the family's North End home on Dec. 29 to tell the family Windy had been found dead.

"The police showed up and they came to inform me that she was found and she froze," said her mother.

She said she's upset and wants to know why her daughter was allowed to leave the hospital when she was clearly intoxicated.

"I'm very, very, angry right now ... why did they leave her alone in that room?" she said.

"When she was clearly impaired, she was incoherent, she was hallucinating, she was talking to herself. You wouldn't leave anybody like that, you would make sure that they are kept an eye on for their own safety as well as the safety of others."

Windy Sinclair called 911 herself on Dec. 25, said her mother. (Submitted by Eleanor Sinclair)

WRHA investigating

In a written statement to CBC News, the WRHA said it is investigating and hopes to meet with the family in the near future to discuss details of Windy Sinclair's care.

"We are saddened to hear about the loss this family has experienced and have reached out to them directly to share our condolences," Réal Cloutier, interim president and CEO of the WRHA, said in the statement.

"While we are in the initial stages of reviewing this case, we do know that Ms. Sinclair was brought to Seven Oaks General Hospital in the evening of Dec. 25. She was seen in the Emergency Department and was in the process of receiving treatment.

"When staff returned to her treatment area to share results of some testing, Ms. Sinclair had taken her belongings and left the building. Staff searched the area for her, but were unable to locate her. Calls to the number on Ms. Sinclair's file were unanswered."

Eleanor Sinclair wants to know why hospital staff didn't call the family when her daughter left, and said she had given the paramedics her phone number.

She also wants to know why police weren't contacted.

"Why didn't they use the police to find her, she had an arrest warrant and [was] in violation [of her parole, she was high on drugs and that's one of her conditions, that she's not high," she said.

Eleanor Sinclair is still awaiting autopsy results to find out exactly how her daughter died. She plans to meet with the WRHA on Thursday to find out more about when and how her daughter left the hospital.

She said she still doesn't know how to tell one of her youngest grandchildren that their mom isn't coming home.

"I never expected this outcome you know, I still can't really accept it because I haven't seen her."