Standing listening to to be held in overdose dying of Winnipeg man

A standing hearing has been set in the inquest of a Winnipeg man who died of an overdose after he repeatedly tried to get help from detox services but was turned away each time.

Lee Earnshaw, a 42-year-old husband, father and former commercial fisherman, was found unresponsive in his tent near Higgins Avenue on June 14, 2021. Officers were told at the time he may have overdosed on a street drug known as ‘down.’

Emergency crews tried to resuscitate Earnshaw both at the tent and in hospital, including giving him Narcan to try to reverse the effects of opioids. Despite this, Earnshaw died at the Health Sciences Centre of a fentanyl and methamphetamine overdose.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner previously said Earnshaw had made repeated attempts to access help through the Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine Clinic and Main Street Project.

But due to ‘various technicalities,’ Earnshaw was turned away each time.

The inquest into Earnshaw’s death was called in February, which the province said will determine what, if anything, can be done to prevent similar deaths from happening again.

Carol Packer, Earnshaw’s older sister, previously told CTV News she hopes this inquest will shine a light on the barriers her brother faced.

“Relief that Lee’s voice is going to be heard and hope that this initiates change,” she said in an interview with CTV News in February 2022 from her home in Alberta.

The province said Wednesday before the inquest begins, a judge must decide who can participate and question witnesses.

Those who want to participate can make an application by contacting inquest counsel Mitchell Lavitt by email or by calling 204-918-0433 by Feb. 2.

The standing hearing is set to be held Feb. 9 at 10 a.m. in Winnipeg.

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