BC Coroners Service will be holding a public inquest into the death of a young man at a Powell River drug treatment facility.
Coquitlam resident Brandon Juhani Jansen, 20, died March 7, 2016, while undergoing substance abuse treatment at Sunshine Coast Health Centre. Jansen’s death is thought to be linked with the epidemic of fentanyl-related fatalities in the province.
“Along with our health, community and law enforcement partners, the BC Coroners Service has been deeply concerned about the rising number of illicit drug deaths in our province,” stated chief coroner Lisa Lapointe in a media release. “A public inquest will provide another avenue to explore some of the issues we have found arising in these deaths and, it is hoped, for a well-informed jury to make practical and useful recommendations to help prevent similar deaths in the future.”
The public inquest is scheduled to take place beginning Monday, January 16, 2017, in the coroners courtroom in Burnaby.
Sunshine Coast Health Centre owner Melanie Alsager could not be reached for comment on the announcement, but had previously stated that the facility is not reluctant to participate in the inquest as it will bring further attention to the crisis of fentanyl-related overdose deaths.
According to the coroners service, an inquest is not used to establish fault for a death but rather to draw attention to the cause of the death and help prevent further similar deaths from occurring. The formal court proceeding is held if it is beneficial in addressing a community’s concern about a death or if it will assist with better determining the facts of the death. Witnesses are called under subpoena to present information to a five-person jury.
Lapointe also announced that the coroners service has formed a specialized drug death investigation team in response to the increase in fatalities.