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Police would have responded sooner if they'd know teen was suicidal, cop testifies

Dec 17 2011

Saanich police would have responded immediately to Ledger House on Dec. 19, 2010, if they'd been told a suicidal patient was missing, Sgt. Tyra Reid told a coroner's inquest this week.

"This was clearly a miscommunication," Reid testified Wednesday at the inquest into the death of Hayden Blair Kozeletski.

The five-person jury, examining the circumstances surrounding the suicide of the 16-year-old Campbell River girl, learned that Hayden disappeared just after 5 p.m. and staff searched the building and the grounds for her.

On Wednesday, they listened to the non-emergency call placed by Megan Hadley, the nurse in charge of the youth psychiatric facility at Queen Alexandra Centre for Children's Health, to Saanich police at 5:36 p.m. that night.

The call was classified as routine and placed in a holding queue to be dispatched when an officer became available.

The call was still holding more than 90 minutes later, when Phil Kozeletski found his daughter dead on the beach. He and his wife, Barb, were driving through Ladysmith when they received a call from Hadley that Hayden had disappeared. They arrived at Ledger House before police did.

Reid explained to the five-person jury that police rely heavily on the complainant's information and did not think the call was urgent.

"I just need to report that one of our patient's has gone missing," Hadley told the dispatcher in a calm, soft-spoken voice. "And, um, if you guys can keep an eye out for her. She's not actually certified, but she's at risk."

The dispatcher asked if Hayden was at risk for hurting herself, or others.

Herself, Hadley replied.

The nurse told dispatch that Hayden had been in Campbell River on a weekend pass and had admitted herself to hospital because she was having suicidal thoughts.

The dispatcher said she had started a report and would have an officer come by.

"We just have an incident that we're dealing with so it might be a little bit, but it will definitely be out, out there. The information will be out there."

"No problem," said Hadley.

On the stand, Hadley testified that when she was notified Hayden was missing, she called Hayden's psychiatrist and they discussed it would be "diligent to call police."

"I did not call 911 because to my knowledge she had been transferred as a stable patient," said Hadley. "There was nothing to tell me this was an urgent situation."

Reid testified that missing person cases are still classified as routine, but the department now requires supervisors to be notified immediately.


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