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N.B. coroner’s inquest into ER waiting room death scheduled for next week after year long postponement

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A delayed coroner’s inquest has been scheduled for next week to investigate the circumstances of a man who died in the ER waiting room at Fredericton’s Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital nearly two years ago.

Darrell Mesheau died on July 12, 2022.

A witness to the incident said Mesheau waited for hours in a wheelchair at Chalmers' ER waiting room, before eventually appearing to fall asleep.

“The individual in question was clearly in discomfort,” said John Staples, in an interview with CTV Atlantic on July 13, 2022. “There was moaning and groaning and sighs, they were in some kind of pain.“

“An ER attendant came out, and checked people, and checked this individual. I’ve done this line of work for 20 years, so, when the ER attendant rushed back, very professionally as not to raise any alarms, I did look at the individual. I noticed there was no signs of breathing. No rise or fall of the chest or abdomen. I thought, ‘they’re gone.’”

A coroner’s inquest has been scheduled for April 8 to 11 at the Fredericton Inn.

Inquest delayed after police investigation reopened

A coroner’s inquest was first announced in May 2023, but was suddenly postponed when the new information caused the Fredericton Police Force to reopen its investigation into Mesheau’s death.

Fredericton Police announced its determination of no criminality in the case, late last year.

Deputy chief coroner, Emily Caissy, will preside over next week’s inquest. Caissy and a jury will have the opportunity to provide recommendations to prevent similar incidents at the end of the inquest.

Days after the 2022 incident, Premier Blaine Higgs replaced then-health minister, Dorothy Shephard, and Horizon Health Network CEO Dr. John Dornan. Higgs also revoked the elected health authority boards at both Horizon and Vitalité. A labour arbitrator later awarded Dornan $2 million in damages for the firing, which the provincial government is appealing.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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