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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Family absent from Marreel inquest

October 20, 2010
By Barbara Simpson — Delhi News-Record
Posted 12 hours ago

Jeffrey Marreel would become a father. He just wouldn't be alive to experience it.

The 36-year-old Delhi man had a daughter seven months after his death, his mother Margaret said. His now two-year- old daughter is missing out on a father who adored children.

Marreel had a special bond with his two nieces, Margaret recalled. He loved to colour, tickle and wrestle with his sister's children.

Becoming a father may have also been enough for him to kick his cocaine addiction.

"Maybe that would have turned him around," Margaret said. "Who knows?"

This question will remain unanswered. Marreel died in June 2008 after acting erratically in Fisher's Glen. After a weekend cocaine binge, he was discovered chopping a tree and talking to himself by police, a jury at the inquest into his death heard last week.

Marreel was zapped three times with a Taser to no effect. He was taken to the Norfolk OPP detachment in Simcoe where he fell into unconsciousness. Later he died at Norfolk General Hospital.

The use of a Taser was not a factor in his death, testified medical experts last week. Instead Marreel may have been suffering from excited delirium. It is a fatal condition whose symptoms mimic that of cocaine intoxication. Symptoms include agitation, paranoia and unexpected strength.

On Friday, the five-member panel took this condition into consideration, offering suggestions to improve medical care for suspected cases of mental illness and drug abuse.

If paramedics suspect either mental health or drug issues, they must transport the patient immediately for medical care, the jury recommended Friday. Ambulances should also be outfitted with appropriate medication for these incidents and utilize police for medical transportation if the patient cannot be calmed down.

A lack of medical care was offered to her son, Margaret believes. Instead of being taken into the hospital, Marreel was transported to the police detachment.

"That's the mistake they made," she said.

The inquest also heard a defibrillator was not available at the police detachment when Marreel collapsed. The Norfolk detachment still isn't equipped with the device.

In its verdict the jury urged all OPP detachments to be outfitted with an automatic emergency defibrillator. Station personnel should also be trained to utilize the life-saving machine.

While the jury was urged to speak for Jeffrey, the Marreel family was noticeable absent from the inquest. His death has been hard on the family of former tobacco growers.

"It bothers me every day," Margaret said.

Marreel was a naturally hyperactive child, she recalls. A harrowing ordeal, however, changed the behaviour of her then 14-year-old son. The family asked that details about this event not be published.

As Marreel grew up, she didn't keep atop of all his activities, she admitted. She didn't know too much about his drug habit. She also only learned about her son's girlfriend expecting a child at her son's funeral.

"Well, when they're gone, you don't know what they're doing," she said. "Delhi is full of drug addicts. Are they (police) going to do that to them too?"

The Marreel family is awaiting a copy of the recommendations. They are trying to stay away from all the information published on their late relative.

"The less I know, the better," Margaret added.

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