Mother wants answers as to why son died

Aug 17, 2009 05:10 PM

When Ikram Said’s son was placed in seclusion for up to 23 hours a day, he begged her to hire a lawyer and get him out of Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene, she said today.

But she never listened to the pleas of 22-year-old Kulmiye Aganeh.

"I thought he was safe in the government’s hands," the mother said at a media conference where she raised questions about the circumstances of her son’s death five months ago.

"I don’t want what happened to my son to happen to other families or mothers."

On March 14, there was an altercation involving Aganeh, a schizophrenic, and several staff members at the Oak Ridge site, the province’s only maximum-security psychiatric hospital.

The family says he was in waist-to-wrist restraints when he was injected with a drug for acute psychotic episodes.

According to the family, who says it is in possession of Aganeh’s medical chart, the physically healthy Scarborough man collapsed in his room and was there for seven minutes before nurses checked his vital signs, which were absent.

They also say there were many bruises on the body, which they photographed at the funeral.

After the injection, Aganeh should have been placed in a seated position and not left lying down, family lawyer Barry Swadron told the gathering today, which was largely made up of members of the Somali community.

Also pressing for answers were representatives of the Canadian Muslim Civil Rights Association, Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations and the African Canadian Legal Clinic.

The OPP and the coroner’s office are currently investigating the matter and a mandatory inquest will be held once the investigations, and any resulting criminal proceedings, are complete. Both have declined to comment.

That means it could be months, possibly years, before the family knows the cause of death.

The mental health centre issued a statement last Thursday saying it cannot comment specifically on the case because of confidentiality obligations and privacy legislation.

The centre says it is co-operating with officers and "to date, there has been no indication or suggestion of any type of wrongdoing."

In 2005, Aganeh was found not criminally responsible for a car robbery and various other offences. He was sent to Whitby Mental Health Centre and transferred to Penetanguishene in December 2007.

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