Ottawa: Shocking Lack of Safety Warnings Exposed Following Death of 10-Year-Old Boy

The Ottawa police had the unenviable task of recovering the body of a 10-year-old boy, 7 hours after he drowned at a West Ottawa Beach on Saturday, August 6th. The Toronto victim’s 20-year-old brother survived the incident, but is receiving treatment for the shock he suffered following his failed attempts to rescue his brother, which led him into similar life-threatening difficulties.

The beach has been the site of four other deaths over the past 20 years and is not a recognized swimming beach. However, this is not readily apparent to the unsuspecting public visiting the beach, as the warning sign was last seen years ago. What makes the negligence in replacing the sign so shocking, is that the beach is known to locals for the dangerous 15 foot drop in a sand bank known as “The Point.” The Point is also home to notoriously hazardous currents. The question is being asked: “Could a sign have saved the boy’s life?”.

Tragically we will never know the answer to that haunting question, but a more immediate question is: when will a new sign be erected to avoid further loss of life? Local Councillor Eli El-Chantiry, is quoted as saying the appointment of a full-time lifeguard is not the best solution either, as it may create unrealistic expectations for lifeguards to be posted at all public areas.

A dispute of ownership has raged over the beach for more than a decade, and if this makes it difficult to establish culpability, one cannot help but wonder why local authorities have not stepped in to ensure the safety of the public? A local who frequently swam at the beach as a child, Maurice Prud’homme, suggested appointing a lifeguard at weekends, when the beach is “like Florida.”

Meanwhile a family mourns the tragic loss of a young child. It is doubtful they would waste any time erecting a new sign if the decision was theirs to make. Hopefully the local authorities will prioritize erection of a new sign so that we will never again have to wonder if the sign could have saved a life.


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