North

Whitehorse man in detox death ID'd

The Yukon coroner's office has identified a 34-year-old man who died at the Whitehorse detoxification centre earlier this week.

The Yukon coroner's office has identified a 34-year-old man who died at the Whitehorse detoxification centre earlier this week.

Robert Stone of Whitehorse died Sunday morning after he had been in the hands of RCMP, health-care workers and detox centre staff for a total of about 15 hours.

Yukon coroner Sharon Hanley released Stone's name on Tuesday after his family members had been notified.

Hanley said paramedics had picked Stone up on Saturday evening in the city's downtown following reports that he was intoxicated.

But after Stone became combative en route to Whitehorse General Hospital, he was put in an RCMP cell at 8 p.m. and kept there for about six hours, Hanley said.

Reported feeling ill

Stone was then transferred to the hospital after he told guards he felt ill. Stone was examined at the hospital, then taken to the Health Department's detox centre, Hanley said.

Hanley said Stone was checked regularly during his seven hours at the detox centre, but he was found dead just before 11 a.m. Sunday.

Hanley said there was no apparent reason for Stone's death, but added that an autopsy will be performed in Vancouver on Wednesday.

Hanley said Stone had earlier told police that his shoulder was sore and he had cuts and bruises on his face. The investigation will try to determine whether Stone had been in a fight before he died, she added.

Because the Whitehorse RCMP had dealt with Stone, the RCMP has asked the Medicine Hat Police Service to investigate the death.

New facility needed: health minister

Meanwhile, Yukon Health Minister Glenn Hart said the recent death, along with the 2008 in-custody death of Raymond Silverfox at the Whitehorse RCMP detachment, suggests that current facilities aren't working for people with drug and alcohol addictions.

Hart proposed forming a task force that would advise the Yukon government on options for caring for people who cannot care for themselves because of drug or alcohol abuse.

"The best strategy for us is to move forward with plans to create a new option," Hart said in the legislative assembly Monday afternoon.

"That is not a jail, it's not a hospital, or what we sometimes refer to as the 'drunk tank,' but one that ensures that appropriate medical and counselling supports will be available for those who need them."

Hart said he has asked Health Department officials to find out "what it would take to set up a medically based detoxification service that would provide 24/7 supervised evaluation and withdrawal management" in a residential-style setting.

now