Hamilton

'Breakthrough' in the case of a teen's death at Brantford school for the blind: family

The family of Samuel Brown, a deaf and blind teen who died at a provincially run school for the blind in Brantford, hopes to bring its "breakthrough" before a jury to render a final verdict about how Samuel died and offer recommendations on how to avoid more deaths.

'The mystery is over, but the process and the journey is still going on,' says Samuel Brown's mother Andrea

Andrea Brown, whose son Samuel died at the W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind in February 2018, is calling for an inquest into his death. (Dan Taekema/CBC News)

The family of Samuel Brown, a deaf, blind and non-verbal teen who died at a provincially-run school for the blind in Brantford, is renewing their calls for a coroner's inquest after a "breakthrough" into the investigation of his death in 2018.

While they cannot publicly share the breakthrough, the Brown family hopes to bring the findings before a jury to render a final verdict on how Samuel died, and offer recommendations on how to avoid more deaths.

"The mystery is over, but the process and the journey is still going on because we know we're waiting on dates to bring this to a jury trial case to get an even better clarification," Samuel's mother Andrea Brown said.

Saron Gebresellassi, the lawyer representing the teen's estate, told media on Tuesday that Samuel's lack of mobility was a factor in his death.

She said the family has waited far too long for an inquest, comparing it to the limit on trials before the Supreme Court.

"After 30 months, a delay would be considered unconstitutional in the criminal law case. This isn't a criminal law case, but it gives you some perspective on how long is too long," she said.

What we know about Samuel Brown's death

Documents obtained through Gebresellassi and the family state Samuel was fine on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018 when the Brampton family put him on a bus to W. Ross Macdonald School that evening.

Between Monday and Wednesday, school staff noticed he became more tired, appeared sick and didn't feel well, according to a document from Dr. June Rogers, executive director of the provincial and demonstration schools branch.

On Thursday evening, staff say they called Samuel's parents to let them know he wasn't feeling well and continued to check on him. He died sometime overnight.

Saron Gebresellassi speaks about the death of Samuel Brown during a previous visit in Hamilton. She says a coroner's inquest is the only way to get answers about the teen's death. (Dan Taekema/CBC News)

The Brown family says the preliminary coroner's reports and the results of an autopsy offered conflicting causes of death.

One describes the cause of death as pneumonia, while a coroner's statement says it was natural causes.

Now, there is a "breakthrough," but the family isn't revealing it.

Samuel's death a 'tragedy for Ontario'

Samuel's family previously visited Hamilton, along with a group of about 20 supporters, as part of a tour Gebresellassi organized to push for a coroner's inquest.

"It's not a tragedy just for the Brown family, but a tragedy for Ontario," Gebresellassi said.

The Brown family has thanked the public for their support. They remember him as loving, kind, patient and joyful.

"Samuel's smile can never leave your heart because Samuel was just a joyful child," his mother said.

"Every day I still go to Samuel's room ... thinking one day I will still see him come home to me. But it's been three years and it's not happening ... we will get the justice that is being demanded."

With files from Dan Taekema

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