Police not told of deadly Cowichan hospital attack

An 82-year-old Chemainus man died after an altercation with another elderly man at Cowichan District Hospital on July 3, and neither RCMP nor the B.C. Coroners Service was called, Island Health confirmed Tuesday.

Gordon Kriese died July 10 at the hospital, a week after a physical dispute with a dementia patient, said his daughter Laura Chafe.

Island Health spokeswoman Sarah Plank said "it is not a normal process to notify the coroner in the death of a palliative patient. After a discussion with the coroners office, we recognize in this case we should have contacted them.

"We will be working with the coroners office to provide education to staff at CDH to ensure better awareness of reporting requirements," Plank said.

The incident was witnessed by staff and was quickly defused, Plank said.

Medical treatment was provided to the men and their families were contacted, she said.

Kriese was sitting in a washroom when another patient assaulted him, Chafe said.

She was told by a doctor that her father’s injuries included broken ribs and punctured lungs. There was severe bruising on his body and arms, said Chafe, who took photos.

The attack was not reported by Island Health staff to the RCMP nor, once Kriese died in hospital, the coroners office, which is supposed to be called to investigate unexpected deaths.

Chafe called the coroners service herself on July 25.

"We have commenced an investigation into it, to determine what our eventual classification should be," Barb McLintock, spokeswoman for the coroners service, said Tuesday.

The coroners service will request Island Health records to determine whether Kriese’s death was suspicious.

"We will definitely look into the incident involving the apparent other patient," McLintock said.

Chafe said she will file a complaint with Island Health. Cpl. Jon Stuart confirmed Duncan/North Cowichan RCMP is investigating.

Island Health is conducting an internal review and co-operating with the RCMP in their investigation, Plank said.

Kriese grew up and attended school in Vernon. He worked at the MacMillan Bloedel mill in Chemainus from 1953 to 1983, then transferred to the mill in Tahsis. He was an avid sportsman and a longtime member of the Duncan Curling Club.

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