Aboriginal man taunted while dying: Witness
Jon Woodward, ctvbc.ca
Published Sunday, August 16, 2009 10:53AM PDT
An aboriginal agency says a man left lying still for hours by passersby in Grandview Park on one of the hottest days of the year was ignored for too long -- and then taunted by firefighters and paramedics.
The man, named Curtis Brick, eventually died in hospital that night. Vancouver Firefighters and the B.C. Ambulance Service are both launching reviews of how they handled the call for help.
Brick was first seen lying prone at about 9 a.m. on July 29, said one of the people who found him, Eric Schweig.
When Schweig returned at about 4 p.m. that day, Brick was there, only this time he was convulsing.
"His skin was like a furnace," Schweig told CTV News. "He was baking in the sun."
Schweig says he called a local aboriginal agency, which arrived with cold wet blankets to cool Brick down.
But he says that the firefighters and ambulances didn't arrive until much later. When they got there, he said the firefighters started their care with what he called a racist comment.
"They said 'That's what you get for drinking Lysol all day,'" said Schweig.
Then a paramedic pointed to a gathered crowd of native children, and asked Schweig to get "his children out of the way," he said.
Brick was taken away in the ambulance, but he died in hospital.
"This is the kind of thing that shouldn't happen," said Schweig.
Fire department spokesperson Gabe Roder says he didn't get the complaint until late Friday night, and the department hasn't had a chance to investigate yet.
"We're going to look at the records of that emergency crew and have a chat with them to find out what happened," Roder said. "It's really regretful that someone died."
When contacted by CTV News, the B.C. Ambulance Service would not release information about when the 911 call was first made, or any information about how long it took to respond.
But they did say they would start a review of how the call was handled.
Christine Smith-Parnell of the Vancouver Aboriginal Transformative Justice Service said the agency plans to hold a vigil for Brick on Wednesday, August 19, in Grandview Park at 4 p.m. She said she is also trying to get ahold of Brick's family to let them know what happened.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward