A security camera has captured the more than seven hours a Regina man lay outside, waving for help from passing vehicles, before his death in freezing temperatures after he stumbled from a city bus.
"Why are we turning a blind eye to help people?” said Jeff Holt, whose courier business Flatlander Express caught it on its security video.
“It takes 30 seconds out of your life to save a life and all these people that went by didn't do anything to help him out."
Holt received a call from Regina police on New Year’s Eve asking to check security camera footage from the evening before. His business is in Eastview, a commercial development area on the edge of a residential neighbourhood.
The video shows a city bus pull up on the street near his business at about 8 p.m. on Dec. 30. A man can be seen inside the bus walking up to the transit driver before walking to the vehicle’s side to depart out the door.
The man steps off the bus and falls to the ground.
Seconds later, the transit vehicle drives away.
“He tried to get up but he couldn't get up, and he tried to flag people down,” Holt said.
Another city bus went by the stop at about 9 p.m. but didn’t stop, Holt said. Hour after hour the man moved and waved as dozens of vehicles drove past.
Holt said the security video showed the man was still moving until at least midnight as he lay alone on the freezing ground. Environment Canada said the temperature dipped to -14 C on Dec. 30.
It wasn’t until about 3:30 a.m. that a person riding a bicycle stopped and called 911.
Holt said he was told by police that the man died from exposure to the cold.
Regina police said in a news release that the death was not criminal. Police encouraged people to call authorities if they see someone in distress, injured or in danger, even if they aren’t sure.
Mayor Sandra Masters told media Thursday the bus driver’s actions would be reviewed. The city said in an emailed statement Friday that Regina Transit is working with police but could not comment further.
"The City of Regina is saddened to learn of the passing of a resident and offers our deepest condolences," the statement said.
Holt said he can’t understand how the bus driver would not have noticed the passenger tumble out of the door. The man should have been checked on right away, Holt added.
He also said other drivers should have been able to see the man lying on the ground, because he was less than a metre from the road.
Even if people were concerned for their own safety, he said, they could have pulled over to check on the man and call 911.
“That's still a man that has family, has brothers, has kids,” Holt said.
The Regina business owner doesn’t know who the man is, but suspects he lived nearby because he was carrying a small bag. He said it has been difficult on him and his family knowing that the man died just outside their business.
Extreme cold warnings are in place across Saskatchewan, and Holt said he worries about other people who may end up in a dangerous situation outside. He encouraged people to tap into their empathy if they see someone in need.
"The way I see it is we all have to look after everybody in this weather,” he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2024.
— By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Saskatoon