A memorial sits in front of the main entrance to First United Church Thursday afternoon. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Sudden death near White Rock shelter

Investigation turned over to BC Coroners

White Rock RCMP responded to a sudden death Wednesday evening outside First United Church, which operates the extreme-weather shelter.

Const. Chantal Sears said police were flagged down in the 15300-block of Semiahmoo Avenue by the White Rock Fire Department, who were conducting CPR on a man in medical distress, at approximately 10:30 p.m.

“He passed away on scene and the coroners have taken control of that file,” Sears said, adding that foul-play is not suspected.

White Rock resident Lisa Nolan told Peace Arch News the man died “on the landing, right at the front stairs” of the church (15385 Semiahmoo Ave.).

“Although homeless, these people are still part of the community and members of the community with homes talk to them, know them, interact with them every day,” she wrote in an email. “So, whoever it was, will be missed.”

White Rock’s extreme-weather shelter was operational Wednesday evening, according to a neighbouring shelter in Newton.

Extreme-weather shelter co-ordinator Kathy Booth told PAN Thursday morning that she did not want to comment at the time. Shelter volunteer co-ordinator Joan McMurtry could not be reached Thursday morning.

Nolan said the coroner services left around 1:15 a.m.

BC Coroners Service manager of communications Andy Watson said the organization does not release or confirm the identity of decedent, due to privacy of the deceased.

“The cause of death is something that our investigation will determine (along with where a decedent died, by what means, their identity, which would reveal age, and any recommendations we can provide to prevent deaths in similar circumstances)” Watson said in an email Thursday morning.

Peninsula United Church released a statement Thursday at 2:34 p.m., saying that they are “deeply saddened by the death of one of our neighbours.”

“On the evening of Wednesday, February 14, a person on the way to the Extreme Weather Shelter at the former First United Church in White Rock came upon another person who had passed out in an alcove in the Church Memorial Garden,” the release states. “Shelter Staff were alerted and immediately called 911. Emergency Personnel attended and were unable to resuscitate the person who was taken to (Peace Arch Hospital).”

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