A man who was in the same hospital waiting room as Brian Sinclair says he told nurses and security workers he was concerned about Sinclair -- but says he was told they were too busy to check on him.

Brian Sinclair, 45, died while waiting 34 hours for care at the Health Sciences Centre in what some are now calling the worst emergency room failure in Manitoba's history.

The witness -- who spoke to CTV News on the condition his identity be withheld -- said he was in the waiting room Friday evening. Sinclair, who had previously had both his legs amputated, was sitting nearby in a wheelchair. He looked like he was sleeping.

The witness said when he returned to the waiting area the next night, the man was sitting in the exact same position and looked like he hadn't moved, so he decided he should tell someone.

"I don't think he's asleep, so we went to tell a nurse." said the witness, who was there with his wife. "The nurse said we'll go and check, [but] nobody ever went and checked on him. We waited another hour or so and we told another nurse twice to go and check." The witness said the nurse told him she was too busy and couldn't check right away.

The witness claims he told a security officer of the man's condition, but said the guard told him the case would be "too much paperwork."

Victim had kicked addictions: friend

Further details came to light on Tuesday about the story CTV News broke Monday night exclusively on CTV News at Six.

Friends of Brian Sinclair tell CTV News he was a former solvent abuser who had kicked his addictions.

"We haven't seen him in a year," said Joseph Severeight. "He quit using solvents and things like that. And that's how I knew him, he cleaned up his life."

Sinclair's brother, Bradley, said he didn't know his brother had gone to the emergency room and was told by social workers that Brian had died.

"I feel awful, but I'm going to pray for him," he said.

Sinclair arrived at the HSC on Friday, Sept. 20 at 3 p.m. He was finally attended to at 1 a.m. Sunday morning. The WRHA says the man was pronounced dead a short time later.

"For reasons we can't explain right now, he was never presented at the triage desk where we have triage nurses that assess someone's clinical situation," said the head of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Dr. Brock Wright.

Health officials are now confirming what CTV News reported Monday - that the man may have been sitting dead in the waiting room for several hours before anyone realized he had passed away.

"There is reason to believe at that point the patient had been dead for some time," said Wright. "We don't know how long, but it's likely the person had been deceased for a period of time."

The chief medical examiner has determined cause of death, but is still notifying family members. A critical incident review is now underway involving the Health Sciences Centre, its emergency department, and the WRHA.

Sinclair is seen on the hospital's security camera footage when he arrived at the department's main entrance Friday afternoon.

Sinclair seen in security camera footage

He is not in the footage the entire time, but health officials say they believe the man was in the waiting room for the full 34 hours. It's also believed the man interacted with aides and cleaning staff, but not medical staff.

"The challenge for us right now is to explain how it is somebody could be in the department for 34 hours and not have been brought forward to the triage desk area and be entered into the system," Wright said.

Wright said the system relies on people approaching the triage desk so that they can be placed in a cue based on the urgency of their medical needs. He said Sinclair was known to HSC staff, and said staff was surprised that Sinclair wouldn't have checked in at the triage desk.

The issue dominated question period at the Manitoba Legislature Tuesday, as Opposition Leader Hugh McFadyen demanded answers from Premier Gary Doer.

McFadyen called it the "worst emergency room failure in Manitoba history," and accused the minister of knowing about the case when she held a news conference on Monday to announce a new contract with doctors.

"Thirty four hours, no attention, known to the minister at a time when she's out boasting about her record in health care. I want to ask the premier if he thinks it's appropriate that the Minister of Health was in front of the media yesterday, boasting in this house, boasting before this story broke, a story she was aware of, that she had overseen the worst emergency room failure in Manitoba history."

"We're treating this as a very, very serious situation," responded Doer. "We are investigating what went tragically wrong. And we admit to the people of Manitoba that it went tragically wrong."

"Clearly that's a gap," said Wright. "It's never happened before. We're going to have to change our systems so it never happens again."

With a report from CTV's Kelly Dehn.