The question of who killed Jack Shippobotham will never be answered in a court of law.
But the quest to discover why he died at Overlander Extended Care, three weeks after an altercation with a fellow resident, will continue — and we’re thankful for it.
Not to prolong the agony of Shippobotham’s family, nor the family of the man whose death last month brought an end to the police investigation of Shippobotham’s demise, but to highlight a problem that is only going to grow in the years to come.
As the baby boomer generation ages and life expectancy increases, end-of-life care is going to be an ever-growing issue. We need to know that when our loved ones need extended-care facilities that they will be safe.
The tragedy of Jack Shippobotham calls that into question for thousands of families with loved ones in care, and countless more who contemplate the future of their families.
And it was not an isolated incident, even in the B.C. Interior. Shippobotham’s altercation in June was followed by another tragedy in Vernon in August, where a man in a dementia ward was allegedly fatally attacked by his roommate.
The alleged attacker in that case has been charged with murder. That’s as it should be as far as the justice system goes — but this is not about justice. This is about safety, and no court case is going to prevent another tragedy like these two cases.
Usually, the message sent by a jail sentence serves as a potential deterrent to others who might contemplate the same action. In cases involving elderly suspects with dementia, that simply doesn’t apply.
We recognize that the law must be followed, including the B.C. Evidence Act, which limits the disclosure of health-care evidence.
But we urge the B.C. Coroner’s Service and Interior Health to push the limits of that disclosure as they proceed with their review. The goal must be more than preventing the next tragedy; it must also be a full and frank disclosure of what went wrong and how it has been corrected.
That will be justice for Jack Shippobotham and his family — and the news that all those with elderly loved ones in care need to hear.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.