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Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows sees spike in sudden deaths

B.C.’s top coroner warns heat could be to blame for a spike across the province
B.C.’s chief coroner has issued a warning after a spike in sudden deaths, possibly due to heat wave. (Black Press/file photo)

Extreme heat is the suspect in a sudden increase of deaths across the province, including a spike in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Between 7 a.m. on June 29 and 7 a.m. June 30 the Ridge Meadows RCMP received eight reports of sudden death.

Although Insp. Adam Gander noted that they can’t say whether the deaths a direct result of the heat dome that has envelloped the region, just that it is an unusually high number of deaths within a short period of time.

“Cause and manner of death is determined by the BC Coroners Service, who will also determine whether or not the death was heat-related,” reminded Gander.

The high number of deaths in the province has also resulted in a warning from the B.C.’s chief coroner.

Lisa Lapointe said normally B.C.’s Coroner’s Service would receive about 130 reports of death over a four day period. However, from Friday June 25 to 3 p.m. on Monday, June 28, at least 233 deaths were reported. And, she said, the number is expected to increase as data is updated.

“Coroners are carefully gathering all information available for each death reported, to determine the cause and manner of death, and whether excessive heat played a role,” said Lapointe.

In the 48 hours leading up to the morning of June 29, Ridge Meadows had only responded tofour sudden deaths, a number not out of the ordinary.

“This number does not exceed past data records,” said Gander.

Similarly Richmond RCMP only responded to four sudden deaths during the 48 hour period from the morning of June 26 to June 28. Again, they said, the number is not a variation from normal.

RELATED: Salvation Army looking out for Maple Ridge homeless during heat wave

However, Burnaby RCMP issued a warning the morning of Tuesday, June 29, after they responded to more than 25 sudden death calls in a 24 hour period – mostly seniors, causing Cpl. Mike Kalanj with the detachment to make plea to the community.

“Check on your neighbours, check on family members, check on seniors you may know,” he said.

Lapointe reminded that environmental heat exposure can lead to severe or fatal results, particularly in older people, infants and young children and those with chronic illnesses.

RELATED: Heat records smashed across Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

“It is important that people are mindful of these risks and follow the guidelines shared last week by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, including to drink plenty of fluids, keep cool by finding an air-conditioned building or seeking out the shade and, most importantly, regularly checking on loved ones and neighbours,” she said, extending her condolences to families who have lost a loved one “during this unprecedented time”.

Gander issued the same reminder.

“We ask the public to access local cooling stations and support one another during these unprecedented conditions.”

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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