Warning: This story contains distressing details
A one-year-old girl died a “heartbreaking” death in Winnipeg after being exposed to “high levels” of the opioid fentanyl, say police.
Const. Claude Chancy said it happened nearly a year ago after the parents called emergency services for help reviving Hanna Boulette at a home on March 23, 2023.
“Attending members of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service administered CPR to the child before conveying her to hospital where she was pronounced deceased,” the Winnipeg Police Service said in a release.
“Investigators arrested the parents for criminal negligence causing death. The adult male faced a charge of possession of a controlled substance after officers found a small quantity of fentanyl on his person at the time of his arrest.”
But Chancy that charge was upgraded earlier this month to manslaughter after officers in the Child Abuse Unit learned new details.
“Through their investigation, investigators determined that both parents were not forthcoming with details of the incident and were present and had (allegedly) been aware of Hanna’s fentanyl exposure before later calling emergency,” he told reporters at a news conference Monday.
“Autopsy and toxicology reports determined that (the girl’s) sudden death resulted from high levels of fentanyl intoxication.”
Chancy said the parents were arrested and charged without incident on Feb. 2 and remain in custody. He said it appears they tried to administer CPR but weren’t trained after they allegedly waited “a few hours” before calling authorities.
“They (allegedly) knew that the child was in distress and could have called 911 prior to when they did,” he said.
Garry Daniel Adrian Bruce, 38, and Sabrina Faye Boulette, 37, both of Winnipeg, are each charged with one count of manslaughter.
In January, Chancy said a two-year-old boy ingested “readily available” Fentanyl in a Winnipeg home. He survived.
“So whether or not you have a drug problem, an alcohol problem, what have you. If you have children in your care, your first responsibility is their safety,” Chancy said. “We’re seeing more of these incidents come through.”
Unlike regular drug users, Chancy said a child would have no tolerance to fentanyl, which is commonly mixed with drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.
“We know from the toxicology reports that it was a large amount of fentanyl (that) was found present in (Hanna)’s body…It’s heartbreaking when we see these incidences.
“We do not need to see infants dying at the hands of irresponsibility.”
The child’s death brings to 44 the total number of homicides in Winnipeg in 2023, Chancy added.