Body collection service should be returned to North Thompson Valley

BC Coroners Service is referring all such deaths to a company based in Kelowna

Nobody likes to think about death but who collects the dead body of your loved one is important, according to Murray Stockton.

“A year ago I wouldn’t have been able to talk about this,” the Clearwater resident said. His wife of 48 years, Jeanette, passed away suddenly at their home in 2011.

“When my wife took her last breath, Drake (Smith of North Thompson Funeral Services) was there almost right away,” he said. “He was very helpful. He couldn’t have been nicer. I think quite a lot of Drake. It was a great peace of mind for me and my daughter.”

The local funeral director’s tact was particularly appreciated after Stockton had to deal with some insensitive remarks made by a new RCMP recruit who was among the first to arrive on the scene.

His experience made Stockton dismayed when he read in the Times that the local funeral director is no longer being called to sudden and unexpected deaths in the North Thompson Valley.

Instead, as of last May, the BC Coroners Service is referring all such deaths to a company based in Kelowna. Unless instructed otherwise, the bodies are being taken to Kamloops rather than left in Clearwater or Barriere.

“I disagree with this contracting out and centralizing,” Stockton said. “I think people should know that, if someone is killed in a highway accident, in some cases it could be three hours later before this contracted outfit comes. In Blue River, it could be even worse.”

“It’s tough, to put it mildly.”

The Clearwater man noted that there formerly was a coroner located in the valley. Now, the nearest one is in 100 Mile House.

“This contracting out needs to be reversed,” Stockton said. “The funeral service should be up to the family and there should be a coroner somewhere in the valley.”