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First Nations woman dies seeking help as 911 fails to respond.


One family and a close-knit Saskatchewan community is not sure how long it will take for a special investigator to release his findings into the shocking story of a young woman who died seeking help after her vehicle became stranded in an isolated area.

The RCMP have reported that they have appointed an investigator who will probe into how the Mounties responded to a 911 call that came from a stranded group on April 8. The RCMP has said it will also cooperate with an investigator from the Saskatoon Police Service appointed by the province who will conduct a separate probe.

Police say that the call, which ended abruptly, was a request for a tow truck rather than a frantic plea for police assistance.

Cousins Kerri Canepotatoe and Melissa Rabbitskin, and Rabbitskin's two young boys, were travelling between Big River and Island Lake First Nation near Loon Lake when it appears they took a wrong turn and wound up on one of the many logging roads in the area.

After seeking a short cut enroute to their destination, their vehicle ran into a slough and could not be maneuvered out.

Canepotatoe went looking for help, but her body was found on April 12 at the side of an isolated road about 60 kilometres farther along the road near the northern Saskatchewan community of Big River.

It is believed Canepotatoe ventured off alone after the calls to 911 were made.

On April 29, friends and family gathered to say goodbye to Canepotatoe, who was hailed as a hero after she died trying to help find rescuers for Rabbitskin and her two children.

Recovering at the Prince Albert hospital, Rabbitskin is in talks with a lawyer as she considers the possibilities of filing a lawsuit against the RCMP and the Saskatchewan government, who operate the 911 service. If pursued, Rabbitskin's lawsuit would focus on whether they failed to provide 'duty of care' to those in need.

Island Lake First Nation is 275 kilometers northwest of Saskatoon near the Alberta border.


Sage Writer

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Title Annotation:HEALTH
Author:Matte, Andrew
Publication:Saskatechewan Sage
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:May 1, 2010
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