The final moments of Samwel Uko’s life are detailed in documents provided to his family. (Submitted)

‘We failed him:’ Saskatchewan health officials sorry over Abbotsford man’s drowning death

The final moments of Samwel Uko’s life have been detailed in documents provided to his family

A young man pleaded for help as he was being led out of a hospital by security before taking his own life in a lake on the Saskatchewan legislature grounds.

The final moments of Samwel Uko’s life are detailed in documents provided to his family as part of the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s review into his care at Regina General Hospital in May. The family shared the review with The Canadian Press.

“As he was being escorted out of the facility, video footage shows him calling, ‘I need help. I need help. I have mental-health issues,’” the review says.

Uko’s body was discovered in Wascana Lake a short time later.

The health authority says it has formally apologized to Uko’s family. A news conference is planned for Thursday afternoon.

“We are hurting and we are angry at the same time because this shouldn’t have happened. It’s insane what they did to him,” said Uko’s uncle Justin Nyee, who lives in Calgary.

“After about 45 minutes they decided to kick him out of the hospital. He was not fighting, he was not cursing. All he was doing is telling them ‘I need help.’”

Relatives say the 20-year-old man was visiting Saskatchewan from Abbotsford and voiced concerns about being sick and people coming after him. He sought help at the Regina General Hospital.

The health authority’s review says the young man presented came to the hospital on the morning of May 21 with “increasing depressive thoughts” and difficulty sleeping, but he denied thinking of self-harm.

It says he was connected with a mental-health clinic intake worker in the early afternoon and referred to an appointment with a psychiatrist within a week. He was told to contact a community outreach and support team or go back to the emergency room if he felt worse.

ALSO READ: Family of dead Abbotsford football star urge changes to mental health policies in hospitals

Hours later, the review says, he was brought back in by police. He had called 911 asking to go to hospital because he had mental-health issues.

The review says Uko was seated in a hallway between the registration and triage desks.

The desk clerk tried to get Uko to confirm he had been in for an earlier visit, but he did not, the review says. There was confusion over the last name he provided.

“The process for registration of an unidentified patient was not utilized.”

The health authority says that after police left, a security officer consulted with a triage nurse and a decision was made for four officers to remove Uko. He was not registered or seen by the triage desk.

Video showed him calling for help on the way out.

Uko’s death is to be the subject of a coroner’s inquest to be held at a later date.

In a letter to Uko’s family, health authority CEO Scott Livingstone says specific recommendations have been made as a result of the review, and the authority is committed to improving mental-health supports.

“I appreciate there are no words that can bring Samwel back, but I want you to know that we recognize how deeply we failed him,” it reads.

“Your vibrant young son sought help from us and we failed to provide him with the timely assistance he needed.”

Nyee said he doesn’t want his nephew’s death to be in vain.

“There is a feeling of going forward and it will be good and better for someone else, to save someone else’s life,” Nyee said.

“I’m not saying the word satisfied, but we kind of understand in that sense they’re trying to do the best they can to help the situation.”

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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