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Toronto senior dies after wheelchair plunges in park during field trip

Click to play video: 'Trip to park leaves Toronto senior dead' Trip to park leaves Toronto senior dead
WATCH ABOVE: An outing organized by a long-term care home to a Toronto park left an 82-year-old woman dead after her wheelchair rolled down an embankment. As Sean O’Shea reports, the family of Gail Rottiers is seeking answers from the city-run home. – Jul 27, 2022

A Toronto long-term-care resident taken out for a supervised field trip has died after her wheelchair plunged more than 25 metres over an embankment, her family says.

Gail Rottiers, age 82, was at Edwards Gardens in North York on July 11 on an organized outing with other seniors.

The woman suffered life-threatening injuries when the wheelchair rolled down a steep bank and into trees.

Rottiers lived at True Davidson Acres long-term care home on Dawes Road in East York. The facility is one of 10 long-term-care homes owned by the city of Toronto.

Read more: 90 Ontario long-term care homes still not fully air-conditioned, ministry says

“Was it negligence? Can we fix it for other people? Because no one should die that way,” said daughter Susan Turnbull in an interview with Global News from her home in Caledon.

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Initially, Turnbull says family members were told her mother’s injuries were not serious. However, after Rottiers was transported to the emergency department of Sunnybrook Hospital they learned that she was in critical condition.

Clinical notes reveal Rottiers “sustained multiple severe orthopaedic injuries and will require ongoing resuscitation.”

The notes confirm Rottiers “fell from (her) wheelchair and rolled 30 feet (and was) found at the bottom of the hill.”

Rottiers spent 10 days in the intensive care unit of Sunnybrook Hospital before she died.

“She was growling in pain when I was last with her,” Turnbull said.

Read more: COVID outbreaks more than doubled in Ontario LTC homes since last weekly report

Following the incident, Turnbull’s family contacted Toronto police, which has opened a file looking into Rottiers’s death. Turnbull also contacted the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care.

Gail Rottiers. Susan Turnbull / Provided

True Davidson Acres referred calls about the incident to the city of Toronto, which released a statement.

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“The city of Toronto sends its sincere condolences to the family of the long-term resident…who passed away,” the statement reads in part.

“Our staff are fully cooperating with police who are reviewing the incident…the city is also conducting its own internal review of the incident,” the spokesperson wrote.

A funeral service for Rottiers took place in Brampton on Wednesday afternoon.

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