'It's OK to leave now': Vigil held for Windy Sinclair

On the day Windy Sinclair should have turned 30, friends and family held a vigil at the spot behind a West Broadway apartment where she was found frozen and dead late last year.

Family still looking for answers about why Sinclair was able to leave hospital before her death

Friends and family of Windy Sinclair held a vigil at the spot behind a West Broadway apartment where she was found frozen and dead Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. (Cliff Simpson/CBC)

On the day Windy Sinclair should have turned 30, friends and family gathered to hold a vigil at the spot behind a West Broadway apartment where she was found frozen and dead late last year.

Windy had been taken to Seven Oaks General Hospital by ambulance on Christmas Day after she called 911. She had been struggling with a crystal meth addiction and had been using the drug that day. But she left the hospital before being discharged.

Her body was found days later near a shed behind an apartment building in the 300 block of Furby Street.

Windy Sinclair called 911 herself on Dec. 25, said her mother Eleanor Sinclair. (Submitted by Eleanor Sinclair)

It's where family and friends lit candles and said prayers Saturday night.

"In our tradition we don't want the spirit to stay where she was found, because we need to release her," said Windy's mother, Eleanor Sinclair.

"We need to tell her that it's OK to leave now."

Sinclair, who is now taking care of two of Windy's children, says her daughter's death has been hard on everyone who knew her. She is hopeful the vigil will help bring closure for her and them as well.

"It's hard, especially with her 11-year-old always asking about her," said Sinclair. "Her five-year-old, who doesn't really understand the concept of what happened — she keeps saying 'I miss my mom, when is she going to come home?' I've got no words for that.

"I don't want to let her go, but I know I have too, and it angers me that there so much of this going on."

'Isn't one death good enough?'

Less than a month after Windy's death, another Winnipeg meth user died after leaving a hospital where he'd also ended up while high on the drug.

Justin Andrew Davey, 30, died Jan. 24 after falling from the 15th floor of a St. James apartment complex. He had been at the nearby Grace Hospital in the hours before his death.

Justin Davey, 30, died Jan. 24, 2018 after falling from an apartment block in St. James. (Submitted by Shannon Paul)

Sinclair wants to know why her daughter and other meth users aren't prevented from leaving hospital and why they aren't being better monitored by staff.

"Isn't one death good enough? Why do they have to have more (deaths) before anybody wakes up and says 'OK there's something wrong?'" she said after the vigil. "There needs to be better health care — regardless of what they go in there for — you don't need to spend 15 hours in the waiting room to see a doctor.

"Why do they keep slipping up?"

Sinclair has received her daughter's medical file, which shows ER staff noticed Windy was missing just over two hours after she was given a sedative. A note recorded in her chart said that she was agitated and wanted to leave.

Windy Sinclair was found frozen and dead outside an apartment block in Winnipeg days after she sought help for her meth addiction at Seven Oaks Hospital. New details about Sinclair's time at the hospital and her state that night are outlined in her medical file, which her mother has obtained and shared with CBC News. 2:01

Sinclair said she's also learned her daughter was moved from a room near the hospital's nursing station to a room out of sight of the station.

She said the hospital has shown her surveillance video of Sinclair outside, leaving the hospital, and no one appeared to notice.

"Nobody coming out the door to look for her," she previously told CBC News. "It's heartbreaking, like her life didn't matter at all." 

A growing problem

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says it is continuing an internal review around the circumstances surrounding Sinclair's time in the ER and has previously declined to comment on the specifics of the case "out of respect for the family and the review."

Sinclair said she's going to be meeting with senior officials from the WRHA soon.

"I want answers, I want to know why they failed to keep her safe," she said.

Windy’s Sinclair mother, Eleanor Sinclair, says she's still looking for answers about why her daughter was able to leave hospital before her death. (Cliff Simpson/CBC )

Meth use has been rising in the city since 2016, according to Winnipeg police, a year which saw a spike in busts, with 490 separate seizures totalling 11.6 kilograms of the drug.

In 2017, there were more than 700 seizures amounting to more than 12 kilograms of meth, according to police.

Already in just the first month of 2018, police have seized more than 5.8 kilograms of meth, worth close to $600,000. Of that, four kilograms were seized in three busts during the span of a single week, Jan. 20-27.

With files from Austin Grabish and Holly Caruk