Nunavut court: Stabbed man went from stable to dying within minutes
“What I recall most vividly was Mr. Gamble fading away so rapidly"
D.J. Gamble died in his father’s arms after his health went from stable to lifeless within minutes, due to a stab wound to the abdomen, a prosecution witness told the Nunavut court May 6.
“He went from having a normal blood pressure to no pulse within minutes,” the doctor on call at the Rankin health centre, Dr. Miles Schuman, told the court May 6.
Two nurses, an emergency responder and Schuman all gave evidence about the sudden collapse of Gamble’s vital signs moments before his death at the manslaughter trial of Colin Makpah at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit this week.
Makpah, 29, is currently on trial for the stabbing death of Gamble, 23, on Aug. 14, 2010.
Volunteer first responder Arthur James Wall was the first to arrive at the doorstep of Abraham Nakoolak, Gamble’s long-time friend.
Earlier that evening a brawl broke out between Gamble, Nakoolak, Makpah, and Gamble’s common-law spouse, Sheryl-Lynn Outchikat.
Wall received a call from RCMP at about 2:30 a.m., he told the court May 5 via videoconference.
He told Crown prosecutor Faiyaz Amir Alibhai that when he got to the house, Gamble could walk around and had no trouble breathing and talking.
But after a quick assessment, Wall noticed blood on Gamble’s shirt.
That’s when Wall realized that “there’s something else going on here.”
When he lifted up Gamble’s shirt, Wall noticed a stab wound. The first responders then raced Gamble to the health centre.
Wall, who described Gamble as a “big boy,” told one of Makpah’s defence lawyers that “he didn’t look that bad going in.”
At the health centre, Gamble started “thrashing” around on the medical table, and refused treatment from the nurses, Wall said.
At one point Gamble threw his arm back and hit Wall — but Gamble immediately apologized.
One of those nurses, Shannon McKennitt, actually called Gamble “apologetic.” She told the court via telephone that Gamble kept on saying “sorry” — although the medical staff couldn’t understand why he kept apologizing.
Then “he became combative to care,” McKennitt told Amir Alibhai.
Gamble kept “flip-flopping” on the examining table when nurses tried inserting an intravenous line, the nurse said.
At one point the injured man resisted any medical attention, McKennitt told defence lawyer Shayne Kert, and the nurse said Gamble also bit one of the staff members.
Staff then moved Gamble to the x-ray room at the health centre.
“Things seemed to be going well,” Wall explained — but to his surprise, Gamble’s condition quickly began to deteriorate.
Dr. Miles Schuman arrived at the health centre at about 4:15 a.m., when he saw Gamble in the room. Gamble was agitated, Schuman said, and getting an x-ray proved tricky.
“We had a very difficult time holding him down,” Schuman told Amir Alibhai. “Part of the treatment was trying to calm him down.”
Schuman agreed with the defence lawyer that Gamble had been combative throughout his treatment, perhaps from pain, alcohol or perhaps another reason.
He told Amir Alibhai he didn’t fear for his life but, “there were times that I felt nervous.”
And Schuman said he remembers Gamble saying his wounds hurt.
“I presumed based on the nature of the injuries that he would be in some degree of pain,” Schuman said.
Gamble had several injuries, Schuman said, but no external bleeding at the time. And when Gamble’s blood pressure dipped slightly, it would just return back to normal, Schuman said.
Then in a “dramatically short period of time, all the life went out of him.”
“What I recall most vividly was Mr. Gamble fading away so rapidly, dying in his father’s arms,” Schuman said.
Another nurse, Donna McKee, said Gamble reached out to his father before he went limp.
“He reached forward and grabbed his father,” McKee told the court via video conference, “and said ‘I can’t breathe dad, I can’t breathe.’”
Gamble’s father, who sat in court for the entire proceeding, started sobbing and clutched a tissue when the nurse described the scene.
The medical team tried to restart Gamble’s heart for about 45 minutes using CPR, but to no avail. The doctor pronounced him dead at 5:17 a.m.
This is the second week of the trial, which is expected to last three weeks.
Several witnesses have already testified including Outchikat, Gamble’s girlfriend.
She used a mobile phone to take a photo of Gamble that night, on the front steps of their friend’s porch after he had been stabbed, unaware that he was dying.
The two had been arguing earlier that night and it escalated into a physical fight. Nakoolak then stepped in to defend Outchikat with Makpah coming in after, to try to calm things down, Outchikat testified.
The three men then tumbled onto the floor in a brawl, Outchikat said, while she ran upstairs with her baby.
Kelly Kanayok, a neighbour, took the stand May 5, saying an agitated and bloodied Makpah knocked on her door around 4 a.m. on the morning of the stabbing and told her that he had stabbed Gamble.
He asked for some tissues, she said, and to use the phone.