Toddler dies after wandering away from Fraser Valley daycare
Published Thursday, May 24, 2018 7:51AM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 24, 2018 5:14PM PDT
A toddler who was found unresponsive in a backyard swimming pool after wandering away from a Fraser Valley daycare Wednesday has died.
The 23-month-old girl went missing from a home daycare in Mission around 4:30 p.m., triggering an intense police search of the neighbourhood.
She was eventually found in a nearby pool and airlifted to hospital, but couldn't be saved. Both the RCMP and BC Coroners Service are investigating the tragedy.
"It's always a tough time when anybody loses a loved one, but it touches everybody particularly hard when it's a child," Staff Sgt. Steve Crawford said.
The circumstances leading up to the child's disappearance from the daycare haven't been confirmed, but it was the owner who noticed she was missing and called 911.
Crawford said police were told the toddler had been gone for about 10 minutes at that point, and officers arrived at the scene a few minutes later to scour the quiet residential area using police dogs and the Air One helicopter.
"We located the girl in an underground swimming pool where we immediately jumped in, brought her out and began CPR," Crawford said.
Officers also used a portable defibrillator in an attempt to revive the child before paramedics arrived and rushed her to Mission Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Investigators were at the daycare most of Thursday gathering evidence, before leaving the property around 4:30 p.m. It's unclear whether anyone could be charged in connection with the girl's death.
"The next steps are to ascertain exactly what happened and from there we'll asses if there's any culpability," Crawford said. "In the meantime, Mission RCMP victim services are providing support to the family and everyone concerned in an effort to help them through this."
CTV News has learned the daycare, Melissa's Bright Beginnings Childcare Centre on Hawthorne Avenue, was the subject of a surprise inspection by Fraser Health back in January, and a number of violations were uncovered.
The daycare's licence only allows staff to oversee three children under the age of three, but inspectors found five on the property. The inspection report said a temporary placement had been approved for one of the additional children, and that the operator would be applying for a second soon.
Inspectors also found some "supervision challenges" caused by the layout of the home, and noted that there were children in different areas, though neither of those observations were listed as licensing violations.
"Some children were having lunch and some children were in the main play area," the report reads. "(The operator) advised that her typical practice is to keep the group together when transitioning from one area to another … and that she will be vigilant in maintaining this practice."
The operator followed up in writing and confirmed that all concerns were addressed.
In a statement Thursday, Fraser Health said a complaint was received last month relating to noise and supervision issues, and that the facility was visited again by inspectors. The daycare operator committed to fixing the problems, spokesperson Tasleem Juma said.
The facility's licence, which it received last September, was suspended immediately following the toddler's death.
Juma said Fraser Health will work closely with Mounties during their investigation. It is also conducting its own investigation.
"This is an unspeakable tragedy and our hearts and thoughts are with the family at this time," she said.
It's unclear how many children were being cared for when the toddler went missing Wednesday.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Ben Miljure, Nafeesa Karim and David Molko
Update from @MissionRCMP: toddler found unresponsive in pool yesterday is 23 months old, not two years old. Investigation ongoing. Daycare owner told police the girl had been missing for about 10 minutes prior to her calling 911. pic.twitter.com/yuMNNyg2mh— Nafeesa Karim (@nafeesakarim) May 24, 2018