Recommendations made in fatal Coquitlam house fire
Colette Salemink’s 25-year-old son, Blake, was on leave from mental institution when he threatened to kill his mother through a “hit man.” He subsequently torched the house two days later on April 19, 2010. (FILE PHOTO)
A coroner’s jury examining the fiery death of Colette Marie Salemink, killed in a blaze set by her son two years ago, is recommending better communication between law enforcement and medical officials after a three-day inquest.
The inquest heard evidence how Salemink’s 25-year-old schizophrenic son, Blake, was on extended leave from a mental institution when he threatened to kill his mother through a “hit man.” He subsequently torched the house two days later on April 19, 2010.
She died of smoke inhalation and burns.
The younger Salemink was later charged with manslaughter and arson, but deemed not criminally responsible by a judge in June.
The jury has made 16 recommendations, including group training for officers and mental health professionals, giving power to police to access and revoke extended leave privileges for patients if conditions are breached, and expanding the definition of domestic violence to include abuse of children, adult and minor, and parents.
On the first day of testimony, four different officers who’d dealt with him between November 2009 and the time of his mother’s death didn’t know he was a Riverview patient. His status meant he was allowed to live in the community, but had to follow conditions.
Erica Salemink, Blake’s sister, told reporters earlier in the week her younger brother still had difficulty understanding what happened.
“He knows my mom’s gone. He knows there was a fire,” she said. “But I don’t know if now that part of him is gone, or denial, or just some part of you trying to protect yourself to not really have to know exactly what you did.”
The coroner’s inquest is conducted to prevent future similar deaths and not to find fault or blame.