Beverly Park drowned on Aug. 13, 2016 after her leg was sucked into a drainage pipe in Dawson Creek’s Rotary Lake. Her parents Todd and Brandie are now suing the park operators, the city and province. (Todd Park Facebook photo)

B.C. parents sue city and province in 12-year-old daughter’s drowning at lake

Beverly Park drowned at Rotary Lake in Dawson Creek in August 2016

The parents of a 12-year-old girl who died after her leg was sucked into a drainage pipe at a man-made lake in northeastern B.C. are hoping their lawsuit against the city and others will lead to legislative changes.

Todd and Brandie Park are suing the operators of Mile 0 Park, the City of Dawson Creek and the province, claiming their daughter Beverly’s death could have been “easily prevented by putting in two bolts in a drain cap.”

Beverly was playing with friends at Rotary Lake on Aug. 13, 2016. According to the coroner’s report, the children were able to remove bolts that were holding a cover over a drainage pipe at the bottom of the lake, which was formerly designated as a pool. The cover subsequently came off, and Beverly’s leg was sucked into the pipe and trapped. As a result, her head was underwater.

On Wednesday, Todd told Black Press Media in an interview that Brandie and two bystanders had tried to pull Beverly loose, but were not successful until an attendant could be found to shut off the pump.

“She was sealed so tightly that three adults pulling on her could not get her out of that drain,” he said, adding that he was not there that day because he was doing safety training for a construction company. “My daughter in the meantime is being sucked into a drain because two bolts were not put in there.”

He believes the coroner’s report was wrong about the children removing bolts from the drainage pipe cover.

“That lid hasn’t been bolted down for years,” said Todd, suggesting it would be easier to clean.

As a construction safety officer, he said he has a unique outlook on the situation.

“If this ever happened out in the field … this thing would have had a whole different course of action.”

READ MORE: Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

According to the coroner’s report, first responders resuscitated Beverly after the pump was shut off and took her to a medical facility for treatment. But diagnostic testing would identify significant brain injury because of the lack of oxygen, and three days later, the girl was declared brain dead.

After Beverly’s death, the coroner identified a number of health hazards at the lake, including but not limited to inadequate fencing, no supervision, poor water clarity, inadequate safety and first aid equipment, as well as a single main drain that created a suction hazard.

A photo of Rotary Lake posted to social media when the lake was open, in 2015. (Mile 0 Park and Campground Facebook photo)

Northern Health issued an order under the Public Health Act that closed the lake, while an engineering assessment made recommendations to be carried out before it can reopen.

According to the public health provider, several of the hazards identified after Beverly’s death had been identified by public health inspectors before, as early as 1968.

READ MORE: Plane-tragedy similarities ‘fall on deaf ears,’ victims’ parents say

Beverly’s parents believe there should be higher consequences for the death of their daughter.

Lawyer Elizabeth Duerr told Black Press Media that her clients want Rotary Lake to be designated as a public pool again because pools require higher safety standards.

Duerr also hopes the lawsuit brings the B.C. Family Compensation Act in line with other law in Canada on wrongful deaths of children. The province allows for lawsuits to be brought, but she said they don’t offer the same compensation.

“Under the present legislation, the loss of dependants such as children, seniors and the disabled is legally deemed to be of no value compared to parents and other money-earners in B.C. families,” she said in an email. “This is morally reprehensible and not in line with legislation in other provinces.”

After filing an amended notice of civil claim on Oct. 7, Duerr and her clients are now waiting for the defense to file a response to their civil claim.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

In the meantime, Todd said he thinks of his daughter every day.

“People say things are going to get better, but it doesn’t,” he said, adding that he wonders what she would be doing if she were alive. “Instead I stare at a picture and talk to it.”

In 1994, a five-year-old girl also drowned at the lake, which the chief environmental health officer at the time attributed to the murkiness of the water and overcrowded conditions.



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Independent candidate Martin Holzbauer, BC NDP candidate Nicole Halbauer, and incumbent BC Liberal candidate Ellis Ross are running in the Skeena riding. (Jake Wray/Clare Rayment/Black Press)
Skeena candidates talk natural resources

Mining, oil and gas, and forestry are important industries in the Skeena riding

Courtney Preyser is a music teacher and librarian for several schools in Kitimat, and her passion for music and literacy shows in her work. (Clare Rayment)
In Our Valley: Courtney Preyser

Preyser grew up with a passion for music and literacy, which shows in her work and life everyday

<em>Black Press file photo</em>
Clare’s Corner: Giving thanks despite the negatives

Thanksgiving may have passed, but it’s never too late to count your blessings

<em>Black Press file photo</em>
Police look for vehicle after dangerous driving incident

The driver was speeding and failed to pull over for police

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read