Catherine Curtis's body found in Sturgeon Creek in Winnipeg
Condolences pour in for family of woman who left Grace Hospital on April 25
Condolences are pouring in for the family of Catherine Curtis after police identified her body as the one found in Sturgeon Creek, near Grace Hospital, on Wednesday.
"My deepest condolences to your family, praying that your hearts found comfort knowing she was found and I pray for all of you as you grieve her loss. I knew Cathy and she was such a beautiful woman," Giovanna Pingitore posted on a Facebook page dedicated to the search for Curtis.
Curtis, 60, was admitted to Grace Hospital on April 13 for mental health issues. She left on an approved but unaccompanied walk on April 25 and never came back.
A massive search has been underway since then, with hundreds of volunteers plastering the city with posters.
Police divers searched Sturgeon Creek last week and found no sign of Curtis, but just after 3 p.m. on Wednesday, a passerby found the body in the creek.
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Word of the discovery prompted some on the Facebook page to say they were holding their breath for answers.
"Praying for your family during this time," wrote Kimberly Jenelle. "I pray that if the body discovered is that of dear Cathy, that the family can find closure and comfort in knowing that her whereabouts are no longer a mystery."
Another person urged people to hold off posting anything until confirmation was made.
"I ask that people be respectful and remember there is a family awaiting news that could possibly be devastating," wrote Jenn Morgan.
"Please allow police to do their jobs and allow the family the time and privacy to learn whatever the result of this is first. The public has been very helpful and caring during the search for Cathy and I am sure is anxious to be informed. I just ask you to imagine if this was your mother and allow the process to happen in the most respectful way possible."
On Thursday, police identified the body as that of Curtis.
"This is not the outcome any of us wanted to hear or have been praying. To the family of Catherine (Cathy) please know that all of Winnipeg is with you right now surrounding you with warm hugs and all of our prayers," Lori O'Dell Sul wrote on the Facebook page.
"Please know you are never alone."
Added Tracy Bremner: "Definitely not the outcome everyone has been hoping for, hopefully it can provide some closure to the family. Deepest condolences."
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"My heart is breaking for you," wrote Gillian Adair. "I hope she is in a place where she is no longer anxious and unhappy.
"Take care of yourselves."
Mom whose son died after leaving hospital speaks out
A Winnipeg mom whose son disappeared from a hospital psychiatric ward last October said Curtis' death highlights the need for mental health resources at Manitoba hospitals.
Reid Bricker went missing after being released from the Health Sciences Centre on Oct. 24. The 33 year old had been admitted following a suicide attempt.
Bonnie Bricker said she empathizes with the Curtis family, and the staff who worked with Curtis.
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"Do you think that the nurse who last saw Cathy Curtis is happy right now with what has happened?" she said. "She's probably tearing the hair out of her head."
Bricker said privacy laws prevent hospital staff from contacting a patient's family when the patient is in crisis.
She also thinks Curtis could be alive today if someone was available to go for a walk with Curtis the day she disappeared.
Bricker volunteers for a peer-support program where volunteers help in hospital psychiatric wards.
She said more people need to be involved for it to make an impact, though.
Current resources to find missing loved ones with mental health issues are limited, she said.
"You just don't know which way to turn," she said. "It feels very surreal. You're just waiting to wake up from the nightmare."