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Winnipeg parents charged with manslaughter in fentanyl death of 1-year-old girl

The parents were using drugs when the child was exposed to fentanyl, Const. Claude Chancy alleged at a news conference at Winnipeg police headquarters Monday morning. (Justin Fraser/CBC - image credit)
The parents were using drugs when the child was exposed to fentanyl, Const. Claude Chancy alleged at a news conference at Winnipeg police headquarters Monday morning. (Justin Fraser/CBC - image credit)

Police have charged two Winnipeg parents with manslaughter after their one-year-old daughter died from fentanyl intoxication in March 2023.

A 38-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman were arrested at their home on McKenzie Street on Friday, police said in a news release Monday.

"We do not need to see infants dying at the hands of irresponsibility," Const. Claude Chancy said at a news conference at Winnipeg police headquarters Monday morning.

"Whether or not that person has an addiction or a substance abuse problem, this is inexcusable."

The Winnipeg Police Service child abuse unit started investigating the death on March 23, after a man called 911 and told police his child had become unresponsive at their home, police said.

Winnipeg fire paramedics went to the home on Stella Avenue, between Parr and McGregor streets, and gave the child CPR before she was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

'Several hours' before police call

Both parents were arrested for criminal negligence causing death, and the man was also charged with possession of a controlled substance after officers found a small amount of fentanyl on him when he was arrested. They were later released.

Autopsy and toxicology reports found that the girl died from "high levels of fentanyl intoxication," police said in the news release. The child abuse unit consulted with the Manitoba Prosecution Service about laying the manslaughter charges.

During the investigation, the parents gave little detail about the child's death, but police allege they knew their daughter had been exposed to fentanyl "several hours" before the man called 911.

The parents are now in custody.

"It's something that they knew that the child was in distress at the time and could have called 911 prior to when they did," Chancy said at the news conference.

"There was an attempt" by the parents to try to provide medical assistance to the child before calling police, Chancy said.

Chancy said the parents had had contact with police in the past and were using drugs when their child was exposed to fentanyl. The parents and their child were the only people at the home, police said.

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