Coroner To Investigate Deaths Of Ten Oaklands Centre
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 13, 2005
OAKVILLE, ONTARIO--Ontario's chief coroner this week launched a review into the deaths of 10 residents at Oaklands Regional Centre, an institution housing 70 people with mental disabilities, the Toronto Star reported.
A team of investigators will look into the circumstances surrounding the deaths which occurred during the five year period from January 2000 to November 2004.
"We felt it was in the public interest to go back and to review all of these deaths," chief coroner Dr. Barry McLellan said Tuesday.
The review comes two months after the body of Randy Mogridge was found in Sixteen Mile Creek, a few blocks away from the institution. The 46-year-old, who had autism, epilepsy and bipolar disorder, had disappeared two weeks earlier on October 24.
Mogridge's death was believed to have come almost one year to the day after fellow resident Josef Naylor, 22, was taken to the hospital following three weeks of stomach pain and vomiting. Naylor, who had intellectual disabilities, had swallowed a Halloween decoration that pierced his intestine. He later died from his injury.
The push for an inquiry took on more urgency when, a month after Mogridge disappeared, police found another resident wandering away from the facility in his pajamas.
While the government did not release the names of those whose deaths will be investigated, the Star reported that it had learned about the drowning death of one resident and strangulation of another caused by an old bed frame.
"It's in large part from our perspective looking at public safety and dealing with public interest that we thought this was the appropriate route to go," McLellan explained.
Social Services Minister Sandra Pupatello said she was pleased that the review is taking place and hoped that the coroner's team will find that they have already made several changes to the facility.
Josef Naylor's parents said they were glad to learn about the review, and added that they were frustrated when they called for an investigation into their son's death.
"Josef wasn't an isolated incident that alerted the ministry," Cyndy Naylor said Monday. "But it takes a big splash in the media -- it takes what happened to Randy -- to address something that should have been addressed already."
McLellan said he expected the review to be completed by the end of March.