Winnipeg police say that a frozen body was found in the city on Dec. 28.
Police have not released the name, gender or age of the deceased, nor have they released information on where the body was found.
Speaking to CTV Winnipeg, family members identified the deceased as 29-year-old Windy Sinclair. They described Sinclair as a mother of four children between the ages of four and 11 who struggled with a methamphetamine addiction.
According to Eleanor Sinclair, the deceased’s mother, Windy left their home in Winnipeg’s North End on the night of Dec. 25. Incoherent and wanting help, Windy had called 911 and was subsequently taken to Winnipeg’s Seven Oaks General Hospital in an ambulance, Eleanor said.
When Eleanor called the hospital the next day, she says she was told that Windy had been released. Speaking to CTV Winnipeg, Eleanor said that she was angry that she hadn’t been notified.
According to Windy’s cousin, Tina Easter, Windy was found some 8.5 km from the hospital behind an apartment building in the 300-block of the city’s Furby Street. Discovered by a vent that was releasing warm air, the woman was likely trying to stave off the cold, her cousin said. It is not clear how or why Windy travelled to Furby Street.
For weeks, Winnipeg has experienced bitterly cold temperatures that have prompted several extreme cold alerts. According to Environment Canada, between Dec. 25 and 28, Winnipeg experienced low temperatures between minus 28.4 and minus 32.1 degrees.
On Wednesday, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority issued a statement on behalf of its interim president and CEO, Réal Cloutier.
“We are saddened to hear about the loss this family has experienced and have reached out to them directly to share our condolences,” the statement said. “We have offered to meet with them to share details of their daughter’s care and will do so in the near future.”
According to the statement, Windy Sinclair disappeared from the hospital’s emergency department on the night of Dec. 25 while she “was in the process of receiving treatment.”
“When staff returned to her treatment area to share results of some testing, Ms. Sinclair had taken her belongings and left the building,” the statement said. “Staff searched the area for her, but were unable to locate her. Calls to the number on Ms. Sinclair’s file were unanswered.”
According to Eleanor, her daughter had forgotten her cellphone at home.
"I want answers,” she told CTV Winnipeg. “I want them to tell me why she was left alone to leave on her own. They should have policies enabling them to hold people that are clearly under the influence.”
With files from CTV Winnipeg’s Beth Macdonell