Gabriel Pollard,16, died after a transportation lift used by the Disabled Sailing Association of Victoria broke, dropping him to the ground and into the water. The provincial government has filed a civil claim for compensation of Pollard’s health costs. (GoFundMe)

Province sues over sailing incident that killed teen with disabilities

Gabriel Pollard, 16, died from injuries after marine lift failed

The B.C. government is suing the federal government, two individuals and a number of other organizations to recover health costs incurred by the province following a 2018 accident that claimed the life of 16-year-old Gabriel Pollard.

Pollard, who was living with severe muscular dystrophy, died from injuries he sustained after falling from a marine lift near Victoria on June 21, 2018.

According to court documents, Pollard, who used a wheelchair, was being transferred to a sailboat when a “marine lift with a sling” failed. The teen dropped onto the sailboat below and ended up in the water, where he was “for some time” according to court documents.

RELATED: Investigation continues into death of teen Victoria sailor in dockside accident

At the time of the incident, Pollard was participating in sailing activities at an Esquimalt dock near Maplebank Road, operated by the Canadian Forces Sailing Association.

Court documents maintain the facilities had been loaned to the Disabled Sailing Association of British Columbia’s Victoria branch, the Victoria Integration Society (VIS) and Recreation Integration Victoria (RIV).

All three organizations are named as defendants in the province’s case, along with two unnamed employees – referred to only as John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 – as well as the Attorney General of Canada and the Department of National Defense.

The province is suing for compensation of Pollard’s health care costs which the documents say resulted from the “negligence of the defendants, singly or together.”

RELATED: Victoria mother whose son died in sailing accident goes to court

The province’s civil claim comes after Pollard’s mother, Carrie Pollard, filed for damages in October 2018. Her case claims the defendants failed to provide a “proper and safe” lift and sling for disabled sailings, and also lists failed inspections and maintenance, modifications, and a lack of protocols and training as the negligence and breach of duty causing her son’s death.

Court documents from Carrie Pollard’s notice of civil claim say she was there the day the marine lift failed and she saw her son “fall and strike the sailboat and then fall into the water and struggle in the water awaiting rescue.”

The documents say she was with her son in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and was present when he died as a result of his injuries later that day. Pollard said she developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the shock of her son’s accident and death, is now severely distracted and experiences nightmares, depression and sleeplessness.

Pollard’s civil suit seeks damages for loss of past and future income, loss of earning capacity, loss of savings, loss of care and companionship, special damages and past and future care costs.

READ ALSO: Health authority denies wrongdoing in B.C. toddler’s death at daycare

In a documented response to Pollard’s civil claim, VIS and RIV deny having played any role in organizing the sailing activities taking place when Gabriel Pollard was injured. The two parties also maintain to have had no control over what took place on the premises and or in supervising the staff operating the lift and sling.

VIS and RIV also say they refer clients to community organizations such as the Disabled Sailing Association and were at no time in a contractual relationship with Gabriel or Carrie Pollard.

Both civil suits are yet to be argued in court.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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