A man who had a heart attack during a fight outside the North Vancouver homeless shelter was technically dead until he was revived by emergency responders, a Crown prosecutor told a B.C. Supreme Court justice Monday.
After he was assaulted and suffered a cardiac arrest, Michael Senick, 60, had no pulse for between 20 and 30 minutes, said Crown prosecutor Kristin Bryson. He only survived through the life-saving efforts of a North Vancouver RCMP officer, who performed CPR until an ambulance arrived.
Senick was rushed to Lions Gate Hospital where he was given epinephrine to restart his heart. Senick survived, but with permanent brain damage.
Bryson detailed what happened outside the Lookout Shelter on Dec. 20, 2010 in opening remarks of trial for Joseph Papp, 31, another shelter resident at the time.
Papp, faces a charge of aggravated assault in the case, which is being heard by Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon without a jury.
Papp's lawyer is expected to argue that he only punched or knocked Senick to the ground in self-defence and that Papp's actions didn't directly cause Senick's heart attack.
In court Monday, Catherine Forster, who was staying at the shelter when the fight happened, described witnessing a verbal altercation between Senick and Papp several days prior to the assault. Forster said she was chatting with Senick in the shelter's court yard when Papp came at Senick, accusing him of stealing money.
"Mike's a little guy. This guy's towering over him," she said. Forster said Papp told Forster, "I'll get you. You've got my money.
"Mike didn't respond at all. He just flinched back," she said. Bryson said it was around 5: 30 p.m. on Dec. 20, outside the shelter's front doors when Papp and Senick apparently got into a fight. Papp lunged at Senick in a threatening manner, said Bryson, and was then stabbed or poked with a pencil wielded by Senick.
Papp pulled up his shirt, shouting about being stabbed, said Bryson. He then either punched Senick or threw him to the ground and kicked him. Senick then went into cardiac arrest.
Const. Tyler Wickware of the North Vancouver RCMP was the first officer to arrive on the scene as a result of a 9-1-1 call placed by shelter staff. When he first arrived and asked about a suspect, Papp came out of the crowd. "He said it was self-defence," said Wickware, adding Papp seemed emotional and upset at the time.
Next, Wickware checked Senick, who was lying on the ground. "I didn't see any breathing. I couldn't find a pulse," said Wickware, who performed CPR for about seven minutes at the scene.
Other police officers, an emergency room doctor and Senick testified this week. Senick has no memory of the attack.
The trial continues.
- Jane Seyd