REGINA — A coroner’s jury ruled Thursday it cannot determine the cause of death of a Regina woman who plunged 10 storeys down a laundry chute at a downtown hotel in 2015.
The jury of three men and three women deliberated for five hours at the inquest into the death of Nadine Machiskinic, 29.
Machiskinic was found unresponsive at the bottom of the chute at the Delta Hotel and was later pronounced dead in hospital.
The jury made just one recommendation — that laundry chutes in hotels should always be kept locked and only ever be accessible to staff.
Machiskinic’s family has questioned how she fit through the opening of the laundry chute, which was only 53 centimetres wide, and why it took police 60 hours to launch an investigation.
The inquiry was also told police were unable to identify two men who likely rode the elevator with Machiskinic that night, and there was a delay in sending toxicology away for analysis, with each investigator thinking the others had sent it.
“This raises more questions about my niece and how she died,” said Delores Stevenson, moments after the ruling. “This just raises more questions into how her investigation was handled as an aboriginal woman.”
Noah Evanchuk, the lawyer representing Stevenson, was hoping for more.
“I would like to see a system where, when a citizen of our country suffers a very traumatic and non-natural trauma, that police are called to the incident as soon as possible,” Evanchuk argued.
“I think we would have answers to this case if Miss Machiskinic had not been treated as a high-risk, poor and indigenous sex-trade worker but rather as a human being who suffered a very strange death.”
The inquest heard blood tests showed Machiskinic had alcohol and a mix of methadone and three other drugs in her system, as well as high levels of sleeping medication.
An empty bottle of prescription sleeping pills was found along with her body.
Toxicology expert Chris Keddy testified that because Machiskinic was a long-time drug user and had a high tolerance, she would have still been mobile and capable of climbing into the laundry chute on her own.
Former Saskatchewan chief coroner Kent Stewart told the inquest that Machiskinic’s death was not immediately recognized as an incident that warranted police investigation.
Stewart said police were called later after injuries not consistent with an overdose death were found on Machiskinic’s body.
Drew Wilby of the Saskatchewan Justice Ministry said the office of the coroner will take a look at what came out from the inquest and then start putting those lessons to work.
“As for the ministry, we’ll go back, we’ll do some hard looking, and see what we can potentially pull out from this and hopefully, as we always commit to, to do better in the future.”