A coroner’s inquest into the death of a teenager who died while under the care of an Ontario school for blind children began on Monday, August 28, 2023.
The inquest started on Monday with 13 witnesses scheduled to be heard from over a ten-day period.
Brown was born with a genetic condition that resulted in him being blind, deaf and non-verbal.
Five years ago at the age of 18, he was under the care of W. Ross MacDonald School for the Blind in Brantford where he would pass away.
There would only be 12 hours between when his family was first told Samuel was feeling unwell to when they would be informed of his death.
His family says that medical experts have disagreed about what ultimately led to the teen’s death and they allege that he was in good health the weekend before he died.
There are conflicting conclusions on his cause of death as the initial coroner’s report suggested he died of natural causes, while an autopsy pointed to pneumonia.
The inquiry is expected to examine the circumstances surrounding the death and will have a jury making recommendations to prevent future deaths.
Samuel’s parents Andrea and Gladstone Brown first began campaigning for a province-led investigation into the matter in the fall of 2019, citing the conflicting conclusions about the cause of death.
Public outcry would accompany the Brown’s campaign, leading to an inquest taking place virtually in 2020. However, it would ultimately be postponed due to accessibility concerns and to provide the opportunity to explore evidence outside of the constraints of a virtual environment.
Brown’s family pushed for another inquest earlier this year, calling on the coroner’s office to announce a start date by February 9, which was the fifth anniversary of his death.
Dr. Karen Schiff, regional supervising coroner for West Region, Hamilton Office, would later announce the date of August 28 to mark the start of the official inquest.
The Browns say they are hopeful the inquest will provide answers for their family and do more to protect future generations of vulnerable students.