A significant number of sudden deaths in Chilliwack were reported on Monday and Tuesday, on the heels of an unprecedented heat wave.
“We can confirm that the Chilliwack RCMP has responded to 19 sudden deaths in the past 48 hours,” said RCMP Cpl. Mike Rail on Wednesday (June 30). “This number reflects a sudden increase from previous records.”
The “cause and manner of death” as usual is determined by the BC Coroners Service, which will also decide if the death was heat-related or not.
Those 19 deaths in Chilliwack were among the 486 sudden and unexpected deaths reported to the coroners service between Friday, June 25 and 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 30.
“The last five days in British Columbia have seen an unprecedented number of deaths reported to the BC Coroners Service,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner, in a statement about public safety, in which she offered her condolences to those who lost a loved one.
The total of 486 deaths represent a 195-per-cent increase over the approximately 165 deaths that would normally occur in B.C. over a five-day period, she said.
“While it is too early to say with certainty how many of these deaths are heat related, it is believed likely that the significant increase in deaths reported is attributable to the extreme weather B.C. has experienced and continues to impact many parts of our province.”
The total is preliminary and will increase as death reports are entered in the coroners service system.
“Due to the much-greater-than-usual number of reported deaths in some areas, there have been instances where there have been delays in coroners responding to scenes of reported death,” added the chief coroner. “We have reallocated resources and are continuing to do everything within our power to minimize wait times.”
In the past week, Chilliwack RCMP officers were also called to conduct well-being checks, or checks specifically related to weather conditions.
“The Chilliwack RCMP extend our condolences to anyone who lost a loved one during this unprecedented time,” said Rail, adding that they also urge everyone to drink plenty of water, remain in cool shelter and check on loved ones.
An update on the B.C.-wide numbers is coming on Friday.
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