Amid a spate of recent deaths in the city, the Regina Police Service is conducting an investigation, in conjunction with the Office of the Chief Coroner, into the death of a young man this past weekend.
Police were dispatched at approximately 8 a.m. Sunday to the 800 block of Broadway Avenue in response to a report of a man who was lying unresponsive just off the sidewalk. Police and EMS arrived at the scene and found a 24-year-old man, who was confirmed as deceased.
Officers at the scene secured the area immediately and requested the additional resources of the Forensic Identification Unit, as well as the coroner.
A nearby resident said the incident was the first of its kind on their street.
“It was quite a surprise,” the witness said from the doorway of his home. “We were watching TV and saw the flashing lights of the ambulance, we didn’t know if someone got struck by a vehicle or something.”
Investigations concerning the death of the individual are still underway. The identity of the deceased has been confirmed and notification of his next of kin has been completed. Foul play is currently not suspected in the death.
Elizabeth Popowich, a Regina Police Service spokesperson said, “At this time we do not know whether or not this is related to recent drug overdoses in the community.”
The Saskatchewan Coroner Service will determine the cause and manner of death.
“They have ordered an autopsy but they might also order additional testing which would include toxicology, and typically that would take more time,” said Popowich.
“If this is a drug related death, the results obtained by the coroner’s office should be able to determine what sort of drugs are present.”
Although the death of this young man has not been confirmed to be drug related, in 2020 Regina has seen an overwhelming amount of drug related overdoses.
“Since Jan. 1, 2020, we’ve had 79 overdoses in the city, most of those non-fatal,” said Popowich. “We’ve had two fatalities that we believe are drug overdoses.”
If the results of the death point to fentanyl, that will be three drug related deaths in Regina so far during February.
“Police do not get called to all of the overdoses,” said Popowich,
EMS has dealt with a number of the overdose calls. Regina Police Service has been to 47 of the 79 calls, with Naloxone, which is used for the complete or partial reversal of opioid overdose, being administered 16 times.”
From Feb 14-18 there were 20 overdoses in the city with the RPS responding to 11 of those calls and administering Naloxone three times.
From Feb 19-24 there were 17 overdoses in the city with the RPS responding to 11 of those calls and administering Naloxone five times.
Multiple deaths from fentanyl is something new to Regina.
“It shows a real change in this community for sure,” said Popowich. “In Regina, prior to the last six to eight months, typically we would see a fair amount of cocaine, quite a bit of illegal activity around cannabis, and a lot of methamphetamine but not fentanyl; this represents something new for us.
“It is important for people to understand that if they are with someone and they may be using drugs themselves that there is not a penalty for them. They are not going to be charged with something if they call 911 in the case of an overdose. It’s called the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act and it’s really important for people to remember.”
Regina Police Service asks anyone who may have information about any drug related incident to contact 306-777-6500.