The family of a 16-year-old girl who died from hypothermia after being discovered unresponsive in the parking lot of West Edmonton Mall is suing North America’s largest mall and Cineplex Entertainment.
Jasmin Kyle was left unconscious for seven hours in the parking lot on a cold night in December 2019 before she was found by a grader operator at around 3 a.m.
Police were called to the scene and performed CPR before transporting her to the Misericordia Hospital where she later died.
An autopsy later revealed Jasmin was heavily intoxicated at the time of her death. She also had cannabis in her system. The death was deemed accidental.
“I still can’t believe she’s gone,” Jasmin’s grandmother Debbie Sandberg told CBC News.
“It’s left a huge hole in our heart and it’s forever changed our family.”
Sandberg filed the lawsuit five months ago but is only now speaking about Jasmin’s death.
Two unnamed security guards are also named as part of the $165,000 lawsuit.
Security unable to locate anyone
On Dec. 6, 2019, Jasmin told her grandparents she was going to a movie with a girlfriend followed by a sleepover.
But instead, Jasmin and a friend ended up at West Edmonton Mall and the Rec Room, which is owned by Cineplex Entertainment.
Sandberg is not sure how her granddaughter had access to alcohol, but she said police told her that surveillance video showed Jasmin and seven other young people outside the Rec Room.
“They were seen on the video cameras out in the parking lot of the Rec Room drinking and having snowball fights and stuff like that,” Sandberg said.
I was the last one who held her when she died– Debbie Sandberg
According to the autopsy report, CCTV footage showed Jasmin leaving the Rec Room at 6:50 p.m. She said when police viewed the footage, they spotted Jasmin at 7:33 p.m. running up some parking lot stairs, chasing after another girl and laughing.
The autopsy report says a complaint was made at around 8 p.m. to West Edmonton Mall about an intoxicated female passed out in the same parking lot area where Jasmin was ultimately discovered.
The autopsy report said there was no CCTV coverage of the parking lot where Jasmin was found.
“The West Edmonton Mall security staff subsequently responded to the parking lot but were unable to locate anyone,” the report states.
It was -10 degrees that night.
A grader operator finally spotted Jasmin in the now-empty parking lot at 3 a.m. Her body was wedged between a cement barricade and a wall. Police were called to the scene.
Constable performed CPR
Const. Brady Dryer and his partner were close by West Edmonton Mall when the dispatch call came in.
“We knew it was cold out, so it was important that we got there fast,” Dryer told CBC News in an interview last week.
Dryer said by the time they reached Jasmin she wasn’t breathing and she had no pulse. He began to perform CPR while his partner called for an ambulance. Due to height restrictions, the ambulance was unable to make it up the ramp.
“We needed to get Jasmin to a hospital,” Dryer said. “So rather than wait any longer, we put her in the back of the police vehicle where I continued doing CPR.
“Then my partner drove the police vehicle lights and sirens to the hospital.”
Not long after, Sandberg received a call from the police who told her that Jasmin was in the trauma room at the hospital with 15 people working to save her life.
She was urged to get to the hospital right away.
Hospital staff tried for nearly four hours to revive Jasmin, before a doctor pronounced her deceased.
“I was the first one that held her when she was born,” Sandberg said. “And I was the last one who held her when she died.”
‘She had this really nice, kind smile’
Sandberg said that for the first week after Jasmin died, she had trouble sleeping.
“I would always wake up between three and four a.m. and I would envision her laying in the snowbank,” Sandberg said.
Dryer is also haunted by the memory.
“You know I actually remember Jasmin had a school ID,” Dryer said. “I remember seeing her smile in the photo and she had this really nice, kind smile.
“I think about that whenever I think about this case.”
Dryer and his partner investigated Jasmin’s death and paid a visit to Sandberg to answer any questions she had. They continue to stay in touch.
“I think Jasmin’s family left a big impact on me,” Dryer said.
“It’s definitely a call that I’ll think about for the rest of my life.”
The statement of claim alleges that Jasmin’s death was caused by negligence. It alleged mall security “did not leave the premises to look outside for Jasmin Kyle but at best, only reviewed the limited security camera views available.”
The court document also accuses the defendants of serving alcohol to minors, employing incompetent or poorly trained staff and failing to have proper video or other surveillance.
The allegations have not been proven in court. No statements of defence have been filed.
West Edmonton Mall did not respond to repeated requests made by CBC for comment.
In a written statement, a Cineplex spokesperson speaking on behalf of the Rec Room called Jasmin’s death a “tragic loss” and offered sympathy to the teen’s friends and family, but declined further comment, citing the ongoing legal matter.
Sandberg knows her granddaughter made some bad choices that night, but she believes others share the blame, including those who were with her granddaughter.
She said none of them have ever apologized to her or her family.
Sandberg also hopes the companies she’s suing make meaningful changes to prevent another death like Jasmin’s from happening again.
“I’m sure there’s lots of people that could attest they made some foolish choices when they were teenagers and they’re here to talk about it,” Sandberg said.
“She paid the worst price that you could ever pay.”