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Canada Coroner to hold inquest into teen's death at Brantford school for the blind

15:17  29 may  2020
15:17  29 may  2020 Source:   cbc.ca

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a group of people posing for the camera: Lawyer Saron Gebresellassi says a coroner's inquest is the only way to get answers into the teen's death. © Dan Taekema/CBC News Lawyer Saron Gebresellassi says a coroner's inquest is the only way to get answers into the teen's death.

Ontario's Office of the Chief Coroner will hold an inquest into the death of Samuel Brown, a deaf and blind teen who died at a provincially-run school for the blind in Brantford.

The 18-year-old was found unresponsive in his room at W. Ross MacDonald School for the Blind on Feb. 9, 2018, according to his mother, Andrea Brown.

Samuel, who was non-verbal, was fine Sunday evening when the Brampton family put him on a bus to the school where he lived and studied from the age of four, said Brown. But that Thursday they got a call from the school saying he wouldn't get up for supper.

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Samuel died sometime overnight, said his mother.

"He was ... a healthy child and to just pass away suddenly like that without any explanation is still beyond our wildest dreams," she explained during a visit to Hamilton in September 2019.

"That left a lot of questions for us. What happened between those 12 hours?"

a man and a woman taking a selfie: Andrea Brown, whose son Samuel died at the W. Ross MacDonald School for the Blind in February 2018, is calling for an inquest into his death. © Dan Taekema/CBC News Andrea Brown, whose son Samuel died at the W. Ross MacDonald School for the Blind in February 2018, is calling for an inquest into his death.

The family visited Hamilton along with a group of about 20 supporters as part of a tour organized by Saron Gebresellassi, the lawyer representing the teen's estate, to push for a coroner's inquest.

At that time the Browns said preliminary coroner's reports and the results of an autopsy offered conflicting causes of death.

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One describes the cause of death as aspiration, while a coroner's statement says it was natural causes, said Gebresellassi.

The family has also received an autopsy report that doesn't include the words "natural causes," she added.

"Samuel Brown died at the school, under the care of the province of Ontario … and frankly it's even a bit shocking that we're in a position of having to ask for a coroner's inquest," the lawyer said at the time.

"These children at W. Ross MacDonald aver very vulnerable, we're really, really concerned."

The coroner's office confirmed Thursday that an inquest will be taking place, though a date and location have not been selected and won't be for "some time," said issues manager Cheryl Mahyr.

Brown has described her son as a warm person who was "full of laughter."

A coroner's inquest was the only way the family could stop guessing what happened and finally get answers, she said.

"Everybody wants to know the truth and we all want justice for Samuel."

More to come.

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