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RCMP, province sued over botched 911 call

(CBC News) – Families of two women stranded in northern Saskatchewan a year ago are suing the RCMP and the provincial government, saying their negligence proved fatal for one woman and seriously injured another.

In separate lawsuits filed exactly one year to the day after the incident began, the families claim the RCMP was negligent in handling three 911 calls made by Melissa Rabbitskin on April 8, 2010. The claim says negligence led to the death of Kerry Canepotatoe, 19, and caused Rabbitskin, 23, along with two youngsters, to suffer shock, delirium, pneumonia and post-traumatic stress.

The group was driving from Prince Albert to Loon Lake when they took a wrong turn and ran into a flooded dead-end road near Big River, where they got stuck. They called 911 but no help was dispatched.

Canepotatoe walked 60 kilometres for help before dying of hypothermia. The others spent a week stranded in the wilderness before they were rescued.

The RCMP apologized for the 911 mix-up last fall, saying it has changed its policies following Canepotatoe’s death.

While Rabbitskin did not know her exact location and her mobile phone went dead, the families claim RCMP should have responded by launching an immediate rescue.

Canepotatoe set off on foot to get help but never made it to safety and died from exposure. She had travelled some 60 kilometres on the highway to Big River. Rabbitskin and two young children — her four-year-old son and 10-year-old nephew — drank rainwater to survive and spent a week in the car before being found by searchers.

The department of highways also is cited in the lawsuit for improper signage at two intersections, which allegedly led the women to drive onto the dead-end road that was flooded where they got stuck.

The families are seeking more than $100,000 each in damages.

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Categories: Failing to do Their Duties, Mounties Sued.

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