Why the B.C. Coroner's Service isn't investigating fetal remains found in Vernon - InfoNews

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Why the B.C. Coroner's Service isn't investigating fetal remains found in Vernon

Police were called to an apartment in the 1900 block of 31A Street on April 7, 2018 after fetal human remains were found.
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April 12, 2018 - 8:00 PM

VERNON - The disturbing discovery of fetal remains in Vernon will likely never be fully understood.

What we know is that police were called to an apartment building in the 1900 block of 31 A Street — just a block from the Vernon Jubilee Hospital — on Saturday, April 7 after fetal remains were found. We don’t know the gestational age of the fetus, where it was found, why the mother didn’t make it to a hospital, or what condition she is in. We don’t know the mother’s age, if she knew she was pregnant, or what services she did or didn’t have access to.

And the agency responsible for investigating sudden and unnatural deaths in B.C. won’t be investigating, nor will it publicly explain why not.

“This matter does not fall into our legislated mandate under the Coroners Act… and due to privacy I cannot provide any more details,” spokesperson for the B.C. Coroners Service Andy Watson said in a written statement.

The Coroners Service would not address why the incident falls outside its mandate, and would not get into specifics about why that could not be disclosed other than to cite privacy reasons.

Discoveries of fetal remains are rare. In 2016 in Chilliwack a fetus was found in a Tim Horton’s bathroom and in a statement, the Coroner's Service called it "a personal medical matter" that was outside the mandate of the Coroner's Service. 

The B.C. Coroners Service would not publicly say if fetal remains from a miscarriage would constitute a personal medical matter, or if a fetus fails to meet the definition of a person under the Act.

The Vernon RCMP also declined to answer follow up questions about the fetal remains.

It’s unlikely that any other agency would have the jurisdiction to investigate the incident.

— This story was updated at 11:02 a.m. April 16, 2018 to correct the address initially provided by RCMP. 

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