Inquest into inquests

There is a well-established system for investigating deaths that seems to have been all but abandoned in Bermuda.

And in not holding inquests, the court and police system is failing the people of this Island.

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In a previous life I had arguments with senior court officials over this issue and was basically told that if RG reporters happened to stumble across an inquest they could attend, but we would not be told in advance.

Then, as understand it, the system changed so that magistrates would study a coroners officer’s report, and that, basically, was that. There would be no examination in public as to the cause of death.

But look what happened in the case of the inquest into my late colleague Chris Spencer. His family fought for years to have an inquest into his death.

Chris Spencer. Picture courtesy of The Royal Gazette
Chris Spencer. Picture courtesy of The Royal Gazette

According to the story the Coroner called on the Bermuda Hospitals Board to look at its policies regarding a drug which can save the lives of overdosing drug users.

Delivering his ruling at the inquest of 25-year-old Christopher Spencer, who died in 2012 of a heroin overdose, he said that the BHB should reconsider the use of Naloxone (also known as Narcan).

The inquest had heard that the drug can reverse an opiate overdose in a matter of minutes, but EMTs were required to get approval from a doctor before administering the drug.

In other words, the Coroner found a fault in a procedure that might have saved a life and made recommendations accordingly. (It would be interesting to know if the BHB has made any changes.)

We have had dozens of deaths on our roads but I cannot recall one inquest into the causes. Was it the design of the road? Was it because street lights were out? Was it a fault in the bike that could affect other bikes?

Inquests are usually held when a death is sudden or unexplained. Have we had no sudden or unexplained deaths in Bermuda?

There should be an inquest into why there are no inquests.

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