DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – The B.C. Coroner’s Service has released a report which found that the suction from a drain at the bottom of Dawson Creek’s Rotary Lake was what caused a 12-year-old girl to drown in the lake nearly two years ago.
In her report, Coroner Adele Lambert said that the girl and her family were spending the day at the man-made lake on August 13, 2016. At around 5:30 that afternoon, Lambert said the girl was playing with other children in the water, and the group was able to remove the bolts that were holding a cover over the drainage pipe on the lake’s bottom. The removal of the bolts also caused the drain’s cover to be removed.
Around 45 minutes later the girl, who has been identified by CBC News as Beverly Park, became trapped with her head under water when the drain’s strong suction pulled her leg into the pipe. A family member and a bystander tried to pull her out but were unable to until an attendant turned off the drain’s pump. The girl was airlifted to a hospital in Vancouver where she passed away three days later from significant brain injury due to a lack of oxygen.
An investigation into the girl’s death found several hazards at the man-made lake, including insufficient fencing, a lack of supervision, poor water clarity, inadequate safety and first aid equipment, and a single main drain that created a suction hazard.
The provincial government granted the park an exemption in 1989 allowing it to operate like a beach after the City of Dawson Creek argued that it would be too expensive to operate it as a swimming pool. Last July, Northern Health recommended that the facility’s exemption from pool regulations be revoked because of the safety concerns. The City has said that changing the lake to a pool would cost $500,000 in upgrades and over $150,000 in annual operating costs.
The girl is the second child to have died at the facility since 1989. In 1994, a five-year-old drowned after their parents lost contact with them for just five minutes. The murkiness of the water and overcrowding were said to have been factors in the child’s death.
The full report can be found below.