Family of teen who hanged herself in jail cell sues Manitoba Child and Family Services
'Gracie' Daniels, 16, was in CFS care when she died in correctional centre Oct. 2, 2013
The family of a troubled girl who was under the care of Child and Family Services when she hanged herself from a ceiling vent at the Brandon Correctional Centre is suing the province and Dakota Ojibway CFS.
Roberta Grace Daniels, who was Gracie to her family, was 16 when she died Oct. 2, 2013.
An inquest in her death, mandated when a person in custody dies, was ordered in August 2014.
The order says the girl had a history of attempting to commit suicide. It's not clear why she was in care.
The family's lawsuit says the teen went missing at least three times before ending up at the Brandon Correctional Centre.
She was missing for 24 days but was not reported missing until Jan. 4, 2012. She was found later that day.
Gracie went missing again June 12, and this time police were notified. She was not found until more than a month later.
The lawsuit says Grace was living at a "premises or agency where as a ward, she was lawfully placed."
But in the fall of 2013, while she was in CFS care, she went missing again. The lawsuit says no missing persons report was filed.
Inmate yelled to guards to stop hanging
Documents say she was taken into custody and put in a cell at Brandon Correctional Centre, instead of being returned to the provincial facility where she'd been ordered to live.
It says guards did not place the 16-year-old under suicide watch, "despite her history as a runaway teen and at-risk youth and a person whom they knew or ought to have known was at risk for suicide."
She was found hanging in her cell Sept. 28 and taken to hospital, but due to brain damage and her "grim prognosis" treatment was discontinued.
Gracie died a few days later.
In chilling detail, the family's lawsuit faults guards for failing to prevent her death.
"At the time Grace committed suicide, a fellow inmate, who was supposedly on suicide watch and from a different cell, observed [Grace's] attempted suicide and repeatedly yelled for the guards to intervene but no one came to prevent the suicide," it says.
"Grace was a kind and loving daughter, sister and granddaughter," the lawsuit says.
The family is suing for general damages and loss of "guidance, love and companionship."
'We have more work to do'
Manitoba's Family Services minister Kerri Irvin-Ross said she was limited in what she could say since the matter is before the courts.
"First response is, my heart goes out to the family and the tragedy and the loss of life for this young woman, this young child. It is a tragedy," she said Tuesday.
Irvin-Ross said a review is underway.
She said that in spite of front-line workers trying to provide supports for families and prevent tragedies, many of the children in care have "extreme complex needs [that] require best specialized services."
"We have more work to do," she admitted.