Still no answers 20 months after baby died in government care
Published Wednesday, February 15, 2017 3:51PM PST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 15, 2017 3:52PM PST
One thing Delta resident Amber Marce will always remember about her baby boy, Kolten, is his smile.
"I have a few videos of him and every time I watch them, as soon as that smile comes on his face I break down and cry," the 32-year-old told CTV News. "Because I never get to see that again."
It was nearly two years ago that the Ministry of Children and Family Development seized Kolten, as Marce was struggling with a drug addiction.
Then, in June 2015, while she was in rehab fighting to get him back, the infant died in government care.
Marce said the grief has been extraordinarily difficult – and the lack of official answers about what happened hasn't helped.
"From the beginning I've wanted justice for my son and for my family," she said. "Two years later I should be able to sit here and know what happened, [or] at least have some kind of lead."
Marce, who also has a daughter she's raising, first reached out to CTV News in September 2015, and was troubled by the lack of information she was receiving months after her son's death.
Still in the dark more than a year later, she's starting to wonder whether the government is trying to hide something from her.
"It's emotionally draining. I have to continue every day being a mother and dealing with the loss of a child and it's hard. I just want some sort of answers," she said.
Marce has been told an autopsy on her son was completed, but there's been an extreme and unexplained delay having the B.C. Coroners Service produce a report on Kolten's death.
"I have my son's ashes. I have recently picked up more ashes of his because they held onto some tissue for some testing," Marce said. "They have nothing left to test. All of the tests are complete, but [they] won't write the report."
The mom did receive some preliminary information about her son's death in June 2015. When Kolten was taken to BC Children's Hospital, Marce was told he'd suffered severe trauma to his head.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team was called to probe what happened, and deemed the baby’s death suspicious.
"I don't know exactly what happened but I feel like I know who's responsible for it," Marce said. "But without an autopsy report that's never going to be proven. Nobody's ever going to be held accountable."
Asked about the case, Children's Minister Stephanie Cadieux agreed it would be better to have such reports delivered faster, but said child death investigations are complex.
On Wednesday, the B.C. Coroners Service said it does not comment on suspicious deaths or homicides, and referred to CTV News to IHIT. IHIT has not responded to a request for an update on the case.
In an email sent to Marce earlier this month, child death coroner Adele Lambert offered an apology, but no concrete answers about when the report will be ready.
"I do want to assure you that Kolten’s death is a priority and I apologize again for the significant delay in receipt of the final autopsy report," Lambert wrote on Feb. 2.
She added that the chief coroner intended to meet with the pathologist responsible for the report shortly.
"Options will be discussed to ensure that the report is completed as soon as possible. Unfortunately I do not have a timeline to give you as I do not want to make a promise that is out of my control," Lambert said.
That's of little comfort to Marce, who is filing a lawsuit against the foster parents and the province, arguing the government didn't perform any background checks.
"As we understand it, no investigation took place to make sure Kolten would be safe in the family he was placed in," her lawyer, Rory Morgan, told CTV News.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Mi-Jung Lee