sk-parents-freezing-death-rcmp

Doreen and Eval Lariviere of Canoe Lake in northern Saskatchewan hold a photo of their son Kyle, who froze to death after running from police custody. ((CBC/David Shield))

An RCMP constable has apologized to the family of a young man who froze to death almost two years ago on a remote northern Saskatchewan First Nation.

At a coroner's inquest, Const. Mitch Perry admitted he made mistakes in connection to the death of 19-year-old Kyle Lariviere.

Lariviere's body was found Jan. 11, 2009, seven kilometres west of Beauval, a village about 410 kilometres north of Saskatoon.

The inquest heard that Lariviere's father asked a neighbour to call police after his son brought alcohol home on the Canoe Lake First Nation, a dry reserve.

Perry testified that after Lariviere was picked up, he started swearing and spitting at the RCMP officer. But after steady grilling by inquest lawyers, Perry admitted he made numerous mistakes in the way he handled Lariviere.

Perry said that when the police vehicle arrived at Beauval, where the RCMP detachment was located, Lariviere reached out the window, opened the door and escaped into the forest.  The officer said he looked for Lariviere for an hour, couldn't find him and went back home.

Perry said he thought Lariviere went to a friend's house and wasn't in danger.

It was 40 hours later when the young man's body was eventually found. He had succumbed to the cold.

Lariviere's father Eval said it was a relief to hear the constable admit he was wrong.

"We were glad he admitted to the errors that were made, he admitted to everything, that our assumptions were true. So we were glad to hear that."

The young man's uncle Guy Lariviere — chief of the Canoe Lake First Nation — said the boy's family had been blaming themselves.

"According to the last two days, we did not have anything to do with the stuff that happened. There were mistakes made, but not by us."

The coroner's inquest, which is being conducted before six jurors, isn't designed to assign guilt but can make recommendations as to how a similar death might be prevented.

Saskatoon lawyer Richard Danyliuk is overseeing the inquest, which is taking place in Meadow Lake and is expected to run until Friday.