Coroner: alcohol and cold caused death of N.W.T. teen
The Northwest Territories' Chief Coroner says hypothermia and alcohol were key factors in the death of a 14-year-old girl in Fort Good Hope just over a year ago.
Cathy Menard says frigid winter temperatures and over-consumption of alcohol continues to be fatal combination in the North.
"In the last 5 years we've had 11 deaths of hypothermia cold exposure in the NWT. Of those 11 all were alcohol related."
The Fort Good Hope girl's body was found Dec. 31, 2012 near the community's water reservoir.
The coroner's investigation found the 14-year-old -- who has not been identified -- met up with friends the night of December 28th. She had two bottles of vodka that the coroner believes the girl may have obtained during a trip to Norman Wells the week before.
The girl drank and smoked marijuana with friends, according to the coroner's investigation. The girl and a friend walked back to the girl's house just after 3:30 a.m., where they parted ways. The girl's mother said she saw her daughter at home early that morning, but when the mother awoke later the girl was gone.
According to the report, searchers from town followed the girl's tracks through the bush. One set of prints took them to an area where imprints showed she had made snow angels. They followed her weaving trail further, finding a boot and two red mittens.
The girl was found lying on her back, a vodka bottle in her light fall jacket.
The coroner says toxicology testing in Edmonton showed that alcohol concentrations in the girl's blood were approximately twice the legal limit for driving.
In order to prevent future deaths in similar circumstances, the coroner is urging Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod to carefully consider the recommendations in a report on the Liquor Act that was submitted to the legislative assembly a little more than three months ago.
The committee made 15 recommendations, including committing revenue the government collects from alcohol sales to addictions awareness and treatment programs.