Saskatchewan

Security video shows guards removing Samwel Uko from Regina General Hospital

Samuel Uko was denied care twice before he was found dead in Regina's Wascana Lake in May. His family says he committed suicide. On Thursday, the Saskatchewan Health Authority publicly apologized for its actions before his death.

Samwel Uko was escorted out by security while seeking help for his mental health

Video shows Samwel Uko being removed from Regina General Hospital

6 months agoVideo
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Samwel Uko sought help twice on the day of his death. Uko was removed by security from the Regina General Hospital. 0:31

A security video from the Regina General Hospital on May 21 shows Samwel Uko being forcibly removed while shouting for help. 

The 20-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., who was in Regina visiting an aunt, died on May 21 after drowning in Wascana Lake.

Prior to his death, Uko sought help at the Regina General Hospital twice while in the throes of a mental health crisis.

Video of Uko being escorted by security was given to his family. Uko's uncle, Justin Nyee, shared the video with CBC News. 

Uko's family said he had been acting paranoid and was hearing voices. He went to the Regina General Hospital in the morning of May 21 and saw a doctor who gave him a referral and released him.

At 1 p.m. CST, Uko received a call from someone from a mental health clinic who interviewed him until about 2:30 or 3 p.m. CST. Uko told the person he thought about killing himself and disclosed one past attempt, his family said. His uncle said the worker decided Uko's condition was mild and nothing to worry about. 

Later that day, Uko called 911 and was escorted to hospital by police. However, once he was in the ER, there was a dispute over his name and confusion over records.

Records newly released to CBC News say a security officer consulted a triage nurse and was told Uko had to be moved. The documents say the security staff understood this to mean he had to be removed.

When four security guards told him had to leave, Uko said "Leave me alone."

The guards then dragged him to the door as he scream, "No, I have mental issues."

He was removed without being registered or being seen by a triage nurse. 

His body was found in Wascana Lake about an hour later.

A makeshift memorial still stands on the shoreline of Regina’s Wascana Lake, where witnesses say Samwel Uko entered the water the day he died. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

The Saskatchewan Health Authority offered a formal apology Thursday for its actions in the hours before Uko's death in May.

"Samwel was a vibrant young man who sought help from us and we failed to provide him the timely assistance he needed," health authority CEO Scott Livingstone said in a prepared statement on Thursday.

Livingstone said staff spent too much time focusing on Uko's identity, rather than focusing on his care. Livingstone also said it's possible to care for someone without knowing their name

"There are no words that can bring Samwel back, but I do want the public to know that we recognize how deeply we failed him."

Uko's family said he died by suicide. The Saskatchewan Coroners Service confirmed his body was found in the lake, but didn't confirm the cause of death and said an investigation is underway.

Uko's uncle Justin Nyee said the family accepted the health authority's apology, but was still reeling from Uko's death.

"We have mixed feelings still going on, because what happened to Samwel, it shouldn't have happened to anyone," Nyee said. 

Nyee said the SHA's letter promised to make things better. He said a critical incident review completed by the health authority had produced recommendations to prevent a similar situation.

Friends and teammates are remembering Samwel Uko, 20, for his big smile, kind heart and love of football. (Remembering Samwel Uko/Facebook)

The family also had recommendations for the health authority, Byee said. Cultural sensitivity and diversity, particularly in emergency rooms, was something Nyee said he hoped was addressed.

"If there was someone who looked like Samwel [at the emergency room] who came and talked to him, things might have been different," Nyee said.

The surveillance video wasn't the only one taken on the day of Uko's death. Uko also recorded a snapchat video while in the emergency room asking for help. 

Samwel Uko is seen in this Snapchat video asking for help

CBC News Saskatchewan

8 months agoVideo
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Samwel Uko was found dead in Wascana Lake on Thursday. His family says he died after seeking help. Uko posted this video to Snapchat. 0:19

Where to get help:

Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (phone) | 45645 (text) | crisisservicescanada.ca (chat)

In Quebec (French): Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (phone), Live Chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca.

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre.

Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or chat online at hopeforwellness.ca.

With files from Omayra Issa, Bryan Eneas, Heidi Atter and Bonnie Allen

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