Toddler dies after wandering away from B.C. daycare

A toddler is dead after she wandered away from a Mission daycare Wednesday afternoon and was found unresponsive in a neighbour's backyard pool.

Fraser Health suspends daycare's licence, launches investigation alongside RCMP

Police tape surrounds a home on Hawthorne Avenue in Mission following the death of a toddler. (Jesse Johnson/CBC)

A toddler has died after she wandered away from a Mission daycare and into a pool on Wednesday afternoon.

The girl, just a month shy of her second birthday, was reported missing by the daycare's owner around 4:40 p.m. PT.

The toddler was later found unresponsive in a neighbour's backyard pool.

Neighbours on Hawthorne Avenue said police arrived and began searching the daycare and surrounding yards.

"I was just working in the office and I heard female voices and a little bit of swearing and I thought ... 'Oh, the teenagers,'" said Mitsuko Clydesdale.

The neighbour said she heard the girl's mother trying to find out what had happened.

"She said, 'Did you find her? Did you find her? Oh my God. Did you find her in the pool?' And then she started screaming."

Girl pulled from pool

Police confirmed an officer spotted the girl in the pool and jumped in to pull her out.

Officers immediately began CPR until paramedics arrived to take over. Staff Sgt. Steve Crawford said the girl was rushed to Mission Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Several neighbours said the child would have had to pass through a gate at the daycare and enter a second nearby gate at the home with the pool to reach the water.

Investigators check one of the gates alongside the daycare on Wednesday afternoon. Several neighbours said a child who died Wednesday would have had to pass through two gates in order to reach the pool where she was found unresponsive. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

"It was just horrible for me as a parent. I was just feeling for them. It's just kind of shocking because this is something that we've never seen in our neighbourhood," said Clydesdale.

The B.C. Coroners Service and the RCMP are both investigating. No official cause of death has been released.

Daycare license suspended

On Thursday, Fraser Health released a statement saying the daycare's licence had been immediately suspended. The health authority has also launched its own investigation.

A spokesperson said it was an "unspeakable tragedy."

Surprise inspection found violations

Police have not named the daycare involved but neighbours have confirmed it is located on Hawthorne Avenue, the location listed for Melissa's Bright Beginnings Childcare Centre.

Fraser Health said it was licensed in September 2017.

The licensed daycare was recently cited for several violations following a surprise inspection by the Fraser Health Authority on Jan 10, 2018.

Those violations included having five children under the age of 36 months in care when only three are allowed.

It also found supervision challenges due to the layout of the space.

Neighbours on Hawthorne Avenue reported that police arrived and began searching the daycare and surrounding yards until the child was found in a neighbour's backyard pool. (Google Maps)

"Rooms are divided by walls making direct line of vision not possible," said the report.

Fraser Health said the daycare followed up in writing and confirmed concerns had been "addressed."

In April, the authority received a complaint about noise and supervision at the daycare. Again, the facility "committed to rectify the issue."

Other previous violations included a blocked exit, an expired Early Childhood Certificate and incomplete record keeping on children registered at the daycare. 

With files from Yvette Brend, Jesse Johnson and Max Haberstroh

Clarifications

  • The headline on an earlier version of this story said the toddler drowned in the pool. In fact, the toddler was found unresponsive in the pool but the B.C. Coroners Service has not released the cause of death.
    May 25, 2018 9:00 AM PT