South Slave

BC coroner issues final report into death of NWT’s Brittany Martel


A coroner in British Columbia has filed her final report into the death of Brittany Martel, a 27-year-old from Hay River found dead by the side of a highway.

The coroner, Susan Stapleton, declared Brittany’s passing in July 2018 to be an accidental death. RCMP had at the time stated they did not consider the death to be suspicious.

Stapleton’s report, made public on Friday, found that Brittany died as a result of heart problems “due to or as a consequence of methamphetamine and cocaine toxicity.”

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The report describes everything known about Brittany’s last movements.

The coroner states Brittany, from the Hay River Reserve, had been driving to the BC lower mainland with a friend when they stopped at Highway 5’s Britton Creek rest area, between the communities of Merritt and Hope to the northeast of Vancouver.

According to the coroner, Brittany’s friend slept at the rest area for four hours early on July 17, 2018. “When she awoke, Ms Martel was nowhere to be seen,” Stapleton writes.

The friend continued on to the lower mainland alone. “Ms Martel was not reported missing,” the report states.

The coroner says “numerous witnesses” subsequently reported they had seen Brittany while driving on Highway 5 between July 17 and July 20.

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“There were no reported sightings of Ms Martel after July 20,” the report states.

No recommendations made

Brittany’s body was found on July 22 by a driver who left their car to stretch their legs during a road closure on the same highway.

An RCMP major crimes unit and homicide unit investigated and “ruled out any suspicions of foul play,” the report continues.

“Collateral information indicated that Ms Martel had a history of experiencing problems with illicit substance use. Her friend that she was travelling with indicated that on the drive through BC, Ms Martel appeared to be experiencing hallucinations, which she believed to be from withdrawal of substances.

“Family indicated she had contemplated entering treatment in the past.”

An autopsy took place on July 30 at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.

The autopsy provided evidence of “metabolic imbalances due to methamphetamine toxicity and use of cocaine.” A toxicology report showed “methamphetamine within a range where lethal outcomes have been observed.”

The coroner said she made no recommendations in finding Brittany’s death to be accidental.

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