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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Group rescued unharmed after attempting to tube Lakelse River

Terrace Search and Rescue brought in helicopter to conduct search

Police investigate July 2 homicide in Houston

Man succumbed to injuries at Pearson Road residence

Terrace couple awarded by Governor General for volunteer work

Ron and Mavis Ramsey recognized for founding society that covers medical expenses

Skeena Sawmills in Terrace inks fibre deals with Kitselas Forestry and Kalum Ventures

Sawmill set to purchase around 45,000 cubic metres of fibre per year

Skeena Sawmills in Terrace reach labour agreement with local United Steelworkers union

The four and a half year long deal was ratified on May 19, 2020 and is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2020

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read