REGINA — A coroner's inquest has been called into the death of a young football player who went to hospital twice, including one trip with a police officer, before taking his own life.
Samwel Uko's body was found in Regina's Wascana Lake on May 21.
Relatives of the 20-year-old athlete from Abbotsford, B.C., said he was in the provincial capital visiting an aunt when he sought help for his mental health at the Regina General Hospital.
Justin Nyee said his nephew was released from hospital only to call 911 hours later and be taken back to the emergency room by a police officer. He said Uko was last escorted out of hospital because he didn't provide his name.
That evening, his body was found in the lake after witnesses reported seeing someone in the water and belongings near the shore.
The Saskatchewan Coroners Service investigates all sudden or unexpected deaths, and a jury is tasked with making recommendations to prevent similar deaths.
In Uko's case, a date hasn't been set for the inquest because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nyee said the family welcomes an inquest as an important first step.
Health Minister Jim Reiter said the Saskatchewan Health Authority is reviewing what happened and those findings will dictate whether any policy needs to change.
He said it would be troubling if the only reason Uko was escorted from the hospital was because he didn't provide his name.
"Any suicide's tragic and if that young man was reaching out for health help ... that's incredibly concerning."
The health authority's review is being done internally, he added. "If we can make it public, certainly we're going to be as transparent as we can."
NDP Opposition Leader Ryan Meili had been pushing for an inquest. He said the investigation's report should be made public.
"They have access into what really happened that day," he said.
Justice Minister Don Morgan said he spoke with the province's chief coroner Friday to ask about calling an inquest.
Despite still working through toxicology and autopsy findings, the office decided to move ahead with an inquest, because it felt that it had a enough information, Morgan said.
Uko's death has garnered significant attention. In recent weeks, crowds in Regina rallying against anti-Black racism have also called for justice for Uko.
Morgan said he hopes an examinations of the sequence of events that led to Uko's death will give his grieving relatives some closure.
"It's a horrible thing to lose a family member."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 19, 2020