MEDICINE HAT, AB — Medicine Hat Police say a 39-year-old woman has died after being trapped in the opening of a charitable donation bin in the city.
Police received a call at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Monday, responding to reports of an unconscious woman trapped in the bin. When police and EMS arrived, the woman was unresponsive and determined to be deceased at the scene.
Police say the initial investigation determined the woman’s death to be accidental. The Alberta Coroners Office will continue the investigation to determine the exact cause of death.
“We’ve got some video evidence and witness evidence,” said Inspector Joe West. “Between all that, we were able to very confidently determine that it was indeed accidental.”
The bin is located outside of the Salvation Army downtown. Major Murray Jaster with the local chapter of the Salvation Army says the death is tragic.
“It’s tragic for everyone,” said Jaster. “Obviously, for the friends and family of this lady, but also for our staff. It’s very traumatic for them to have to deal with this, we’re pastors so we’ve been there to help in that situation and aid through all of that.”
Calls to remove or fix donation bins have intensifed following deaths in Toronto and Vancouver in January. RangeView Fabricating, the company that produces donation bins for Diabetes Canada, announced in January they had stopped producing the donation bins, and are working to develop a safer design.
Jaster says the bin has been decommissioned.
Police say they’re hoping to educate people of the potential dangers of entering the charitable donation bins.
“We’re reaching out to some of our partner agencies that deal with more vulnerable sectors of the community and letting them know what’s occurred,” said West. “Hopefully, they can get the word out that it’s a very dangerous activity and there’s lots of supports in Medicine Hat.”
“You don’t really have to access a bin,” said Jaster. “You can get inside our Family Services Resource Centre, come and visit us and we’d be happy to issue you vouchers for whatever you might need.”
-With Files from the Canadian Press
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