Family seeks answers after woman freezes in snowbank

Family members of Rocelyn Gabriel, who was found frozen in a snowbank over the weekend, believe they are not getting the full story from RCMP about her death.
Family members of Rocelyn Gabriel, who was found frozen in a snowbank over the weekend, believe they are not getting the full story from RCMP about her death. 2:12

Family members of a woman found frozen in a snowbank over the weekend believe they aren't getting the full story from RCMP about her death.

Rocelyn Gabriel, 20, was found at the recycling depot in Portage la Prairie, Man., just after 8 a.m. on Sunday.

Paramedics began CPR and rushed her to the Portage General Hospital, where she died.

Rocelyn Gabriel was found nearly frozen to death in a snowbank at the Portage la Prairie Recycling Depot on Jan. 26. She later died in hospital. (Facebook)
"I'm not ready to bury my baby," her mother, Joyce Gabriel, said Tuesday.

"Somebody has got to know something [about] how she ended up there."

Someone who was dropping off recycling found Gabriel huddled between two large bins and covered in snow, according to her family.

RCMP say the freezing temperatures played a role in her death and no foul play is suspected.

But Gabriel's family refuses to believe no one else was involved in her death.

"We need answers. That's what we need right now," said Olivia Gabriel, one of her sisters.

"We need closure, to really find out what happened to my sister," she added, sobbing. "My sister would not just lay there in the cold. She wouldn't."

Rocelyn Gabriel was celebrating a cousin's birthday with her sister and some cousins when they all became separated. The family says that was the last place anyone saw her.

She left on foot at 4 a.m. The family said RCMP has surveillance video showing Gabriel at the recycling depot about 40 minutes later.

Gabriel, who was dressed in just a sweater,​ was later found in the snowbank. Her purse was found a distance from her body.

Her family said that wasn't like her, that she would never wander or go out in the bitter cold without a jacket. They think she may have been chased.

"We just want to know how she got there, because obviously she didn't walk there," said Lindsey Traverse, a cousin.

The family is planning to file a complaint against the RCMP.

They began a vigil Tuesday at 6 p.m. to honour Gabriel and encourage people to help them find out what happened to her.

Gabriel, who had four sisters and two brothers, was the first in her family to graduate from high school and had dreamed of becoming a nurse one day.

"Rocelyn was like the rock and the light of our family," said Samantha Gabriel, a cousin. "When you needed something or someone, she was always there for you."

Notice on Facebook

It’s sad to mourn the loss of our beautiful sister, auntie, & great friend.
We all had our memories with our sister Rocelyn, she was everything to us & we loved her so much!
We are asking anyone that our sister Rocelyn was friends with, that knew her, whose hearts were touched by her to come & join us & support our family with a candlelight vigil in memory of our sister who is greatly missed by a lot!

Location: 700 Phillips St. Portage la Prairie, Manitoba
Time: Tuesday at 6 p.m. 

We believe there’s more to the story & we believe someone knows more. There is no reason to why my sister would end up where she was found! So please come show your support & raise awareness.

The following map shows the location of Gabriel's home (A) and the recycling depot where she was found (B).

With files from the CBC's Jillian Taylor