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'Her death was preventable': Nurse testifies at coroner's inquest into inmate's death

A former nurse at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre told a Coroner's Inquest on Thursday that the death of Shannon Sargent, an inmate at the facility, never should have happened.  

"I truly believe that her death was preventable," said Diane Longmuir, who has since retired.  

Sargent was found dead in her cell at the Innes Road jail on July 20, 2016, the day after she arrived. The inquest is mandatory because Sargent died while in custody.  

The inquest is scheduled to last 10 days and will hear from 25 witnesses. The five-member jury will not lay blame, but will have to decide how and by what means Sargent died. It may also issue a list of recommendations on how to prevent similar deaths.  

Longmuir testified Sargent was so sick when she arrived she knew she had to get to the hospital right away.  

"In my opinion, she could've died without going. I was that scared that she was that sick that I wanted her to go right away, immediately." 

The inquest heard when Sargent arrived on July 19 she was weak, her pulse was racing and she had very low blood pressure. There were also concerns she had a C. difficile infection.  

Sargent had open-heart surgery to replace a valve less than two weeks before she died. Her heart had been damaged by years of intravenous drug use, the inquest heard.  

Under cross-examination, Longmuir said she was stunned by the resistance of the supervisor on duty who said Sargent had already been to the Ottawa Hospital before arriving at the jail.  

"It doesn’t matter what happened this morning. It matters what's happening right now," she said. "They didn't believe me." 

Late Thursday, correctional officer Erin Montgomery, who was among those who eventually transported Sargent to hospital, testified another officer was upset he'd have to go too.  

"He said he didn't want to go on this escort because he had plans the next day," she said.  

Watching it all is Sargent's daughter Shauna, who said in a statement that she has "waited for over seven years to have answers about how my mother was treated and what steps were taken to protect her life." 

"At this point I have more questions than answers but I will continue to watch and listen."  

The inquest continues on Friday. Top Stories

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