Samwel Uko’s relatives are trying to piece together the last moments of the 20-year-old’s life. (Submitted to The Canadian Press)

B.C. football star found dead in Regina lake had sought help at hospital twice, called 911

Samwel Uko’s relatives are trying to piece together the last moments of the 20-year-old’s life

The family of a young man says he tried twice to get mental help at a hospital the day he drowned in a lake in Regina — and that he was taken there the second time, just hours before his apparent suicide, by police.

Samwel Uko’s relatives are trying to piece together the last moments of the 20-year-old’s life before emergency responders discovered his body in Wascana Lake three weeks ago.

Uko, who was from Abbotsford had travelled to Saskatchewan’s capital to visit an aunt. While there, relatives said Uko told them he felt ill and was afraid people were coming after him. He said he wanted to go to a hospital.

His uncle Justin Nyee said the family has been trying to get answers about what happened at the Regina General Hospital on May 21.

During a recent phone conference with health officials, Nyee said it was revealed that Uko had visited the hospital twice the day he died. Initially, they had only known about a first visit in the morning.

Video surveillance shows Uko went back a second time later in the day with a police officer.

“Saskatchewan Coroners Service can confirm that they have surveillance footage and that Mr. Uko was brought to the emergency by the Regina Police Service to seek medical assistance,” Ministry of Justice spokeswoman Marieka Andrew said Thursday.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that a dispatch went out about 5:36 p.m. after Uko called 911. An officer in the area of Broadway Avenue and Winnipeg Street responded.

“The officer located the male, who would only say that he wanted to go to the hospital. He voluntarily got into the patrol car and the officer took him into the hospital to seek medical assistance,” said Elizabeth Popowich.

The officer stayed with Uko for awhile, she added.

“This death is still under investigation by the Saskatchewan Coroners Service. It’s not appropriate for us to say more.”

Nyee said he was told that Uko was eventually escorted out of the hospital by security and a nurse, because he didn’t provide his name inside.

It was shortly after that, about 7:30 p.m., that police have said witnesses reported seeing a man in the lake.

“According to the timing, that means he left the hospital and went straight to commit suicide,” said Nyee.

“I was so upset.”

The health authority said it is also doing a review and talking throughout the process with Uko’s family.

“We again wish to convey our condolences to the family and friends of this young man,” said spokeswoman Lisa Thomson. “This situation is heartbreaking for everyone involved.”

A cousin took Uko to the hospital the first time that morning, said Nyee. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the cousin was not allowed to accompany him inside.

Nyee said that in talking with health officials, it appears Uko then spoke with four nurses as well as a doctor and was found to be depressed.

Uko answered many questions, said the uncle, and told one nurse he had thought about hanging himself but couldn’t carry through with it.

Uko was prescribed some medication, referred to a mental-health clinic and given a 1-800 number to call for additional help, said Nyee.

After one hour and 45 minutes, he was released.

“How does a person who comes in the morning seeking help, you send them away and then they come back again in the evening — and this time they come with a police officer — and still, you kick him out?”

The family buried Uko last weekend in British Columbia. Nyee said they are waiting for more information from the investigations. They also plan to seek legal advice.

“The fight’s not going to be just for Samwel,” said Nyee. “It’s going to be for other people who might come after him.”

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

If you feel like you are in crisis or are considering suicide, please call the Crisis Centre BC suicide hotline at 1-800-784-2433.

Other resources include: Canada Suicide Prevention Service at Toll free: 1-833-456-4566. You can also text 45645 or visit the online chat service at crisisservicescanada.ca.

Some warning signs include suicidal thoughts, anger, recklessness, mood changes, anxiety, lack of purpose, helplessness and substance use.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ucluelet’s Terrace Beach Resort is for sale

The commercial offering of 21 suites and cabins was recently listed for $4,495,000

Young tourist caught untying boats from Ucluelet dock

“He was just untying the boats and watching them float away,” said Harbour Master Kevin Cortes.

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Ucluelet RCMP warns of scammers impersonating police

“Police will never demand payment of any kind to get rid of an arrest warrant.”

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Campaign aims to raise $50K for young family of deceased Vancouver Island skydiver

James Smith, 34, died July 5 following incident in Nanoose Bay

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

B.C. ports part of data integration project to protect marine ecosystems

The $1.2 M federally funded program will draw crucial baseline data from Canada’s three coastlines

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

RCMP disarm man experiencing mental health crisis

The male pulled a knife on officers and then held it to his own throat expressing a desire to die

Most Read