Police investigating whether girl's visual impairment factored into fall
Published Monday, November 6, 2017 6:42PM PST
Neighbours are still reeling days after an eight-year-old girl died falling from the 22nd floor of a Burnaby highrise, and police are trying to determine whether her visual impairment played a role in the tragedy.
Audrey, as the memorial where her body was found identifies her, did not crawl off of a balcony as initially believed but instead plummeted out of a window, police revealed Monday.
"I'd like to take this opportunity for parents to check windows, check balconies… especially those that live in a higher apartment building," said Cpl. Daniela Panesar.
Neighbours say the smiling eight-year-old was a familiar face around the apartment building. Several told CTV News that she had a visual impairment.
"My daughter's disabled and it's a tough thing for me. It hits home," said Isabel Sousa.
Police are still trying to determine whether Audrey's sight played a role in what happened.
"The investigators will look at all circumstances of course. Everything regarding the victim would lend itself to the circumstances of the incident," Panesar said.
Dr. Ian Pike, director of the B.C. Children’s Hospital’s Injury Research and Prevention Unit, says parents and caregivers need to be careful with windows and balconies in highrises—especially considering a child's inquisitive nature.
"Avoid having furniture, toys or other objects below windows or on balconies where children can climb onto and topple off the balcony or through the window," he said.
A chair below a window might be an especially attractive risk for a curious child. Once children make it up to window height, Dr. Pike says they can easily topple through because their large heads make their centre of gravity higher.
He recommends installing window guards that allow a window to open four to five inches but no further. Bug screens are ineffective, because if a child applies pressure the screen could fall out.
Police wouldn't say whether the unit that Audrey fell from had any window protections in place. But they did say her father was home at the time.
Sousa says the building does not require that windows have screens or any protection—that's up to the individual resident.
"It's a sad loss for all of us. We're all very close," said Sousa.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Breanna Karstens-Smith
Getting an update from Burnaby RCMP on case of an 8-year-old girl who died after falling from a high-rise this weekend. Police now say she fell from a window not balcony @CTVVancouver #yvr pic.twitter.com/9rE0dZm9TN— BreannaKarstensSmith (@BreannaCTV) November 6, 2017