Coroner's service investigating woman's death at YVR

The B.C. Coroners Service is investigating the death of a woman at Vancouver International Airport after she was detained by the Canada Border Services Agency.

The woman, 42, who did not hold Canadian citizenship, had been in custody for a few days before she was transferred to a holding cell at Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 19, according to Barb McLintock of the coroners service.

The following day, around 6 a.m., "something went wrong," McLintock said, and the woman was taken to hospital, where she remained for more than a week.

Yet despite aggressive treatment, the woman died Dec. 28 in Mt. St. Joseph Hospital in Vancouver.

The death is being investigated as an in-custody death, because the woman was not free to leave, McLintock said.

According to Canada Borders Services Agency, first responders were called to the B.C. Immigration Holding Centre at YVR on Dec. 20 to attend to a short-term detainee who was then taken to hospital.

The woman's next of kin were notified of her medical status.

"The health and safety of those in our care is of paramount concern," said Amitha Carnadin, spokesperson for Canada Border Services Agency. "We take this responsibility very seriously, and it is important to deteremine the circumstances surrounding any loss of life.

While the Richmond RCMP were initially called to investigate, they determined the death was not criminal in nature.

According to the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the woman who died is Lucia Vega Jimenez.

"Nobody should die while they are in the custody of law enforcement," said association executive director Josh Paterson. "The Canada Border Services Agency must be accountable for this tragic death of a woman who was in their care and custody. The public needs answers. How did this happen? Could this tragedy have been prevented."

McLintock said she wouldn't speculate about the cause of death.

The investigation into the woman's death will take months to complete, she said.

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