Public outrage after woman, 67, left alone to die in extreme cold weather
Web Staff, cp24.com
Published Monday, January 17, 2011 1:38PM EST
A woman in her late 60s has died after she was found laying on the ground in extreme temperatures a block away from her home.
Her death has sparked a public outrage after police said a couple of neighbours heard her screams and saw her struggling on the ground but didn't think to call police or lend a helping hand.
"It's tragic," said Staff Sgt. David Dube.
"If you're going to be a community member I think we have an obligaion to look after one another and do the right thing," he said. "I think if someone would have called the police right away there could have been a different outcome."
The 67-year-old woman, who suffers from dementia, wandered away from bed earlier Monday morning. Her family first noticed she went missing at around 2 a.m. and searched for almost three hours before calling police.
The woman was found on Kennaley Cres. -- just a block away from her Scarborough home -- at around 6 a.m. A person delivering newspapers found the woman laying on the ground behind a car without a jacket and immediately called police. Her jacket and glasses were found nearby.
Police believe she fell and tried to get up but couldn't. Her fingerprints were on the car and police believe she was trying to push herself up.
"She was clearly suffering from hypothermia," Dube said.
"Our officers tried CPR. Due to her condition, the chest compressions were difficult," he said.
The victim was rushed to hospital but later succumbed to her injuries.
Neighbours told police they heard some screams at around 2 a.m., Dube said. One person told authorities that they saw the lady on the sidewalk rolling around on the ground in distress but didn't think to call 911.
When news of her neighbours' disregard was made public, dozens of people spoke out against their inaction on social networking sites like Twitter.
"I"m a bit disgraced, where's the compassion?" wrote one person.
"Really sad and disturbing," wrote another.
Police say the neighbours most likely didn't realize the severity of the situation. Although the public is always encouraged to call 911 to report emergencies, Dube said people should always make sure they stay out of harm's way.
With files from The Canadian Press