Woman found by highway near Merritt in 2018 died of overdose: Coroner - InfoNews

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Woman found by highway near Merritt in 2018 died of overdose: Coroner

May 01, 2020 - 1:40 PM

The B.C. Coroners Service has determined that a woman found on an embankment along Highway 5 south of Merritt in 2018 died of a cocaine and methamphetamine-related overdose.

The body of Brittany Marie Ruby Martel was found July 2018 when a woman stopped at a road closure 60 kilometres south of Merritt came upon her body, according to the coroners report.

Martel was travelling from out of province with a friend to the lower mainland, according to the report.

“Her friend reported that during the early morning hours of July 17, 2018, they stopped at Britton Creek Rest Stop to sleep. The friend fell asleep for approximately four hours. When she awoke Ms. Martel was nowhere to be seen. The friend then continued on her journey to the lower mainland. Ms. Martel was not reported missing.”

READ MORE: Body of Northwest Territories woman found off side of B.C.'s Coquihalla Highway

Coroner Susan Stapleton said Martel was spotted in the area by "numerous" witnesses driving Highway 5 between July 17 and July 20, 2018. Her body was found July 22. She made her last phone call on her cell phone July 17. 

“Collateral information indicated that Martel had a history of experiencing problems with illicit substance use. Her friend that she was travelling with indicated that on the drive-through B.C., Martel appeared to be experiencing hallucinations, which she believed to be from the withdrawal of substances. Family indicated she had contemplated entering treatment in the past,” according to the report.

When she was found, she was shoeless but the coroners report said her shoes were found 35 meters away from her body. Investigators found no signs of drug paraphernalia or drugs in the immediate area. Police found no evidence her death was suspicious.

An autopsy at Royal Inland Hospital revealed that Martel had a lethal level of methamphetamine in her system, as well as cocaine, according to the report.

She died of cardiac ischemia, which refers to lack of blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle, due to the levels of cocaine and meth in her system, the coroners service reported.

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