North

Cambridge Bay parents shaken after boy gets stuck in deep ice crevasse

The chair of the Cambridge Bay Childcare Society plans to improve its rules about field trips after a preschooler got stuck nearly two metres down a crevasse in the ice on Tuesday.

Daycare says preschool-aged boy is safe and with his family

The incident happened on the west arm of Cambridge Bay Tuesday. The chair of the Cambridge Bay Childcare Society says families take their kids there to go tobogganing. (Submitted by Ann Balasubramaniam)

The head of the daycare society in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, says it plans to improve its rules on field trips after a preschooler got stuck nearly two metres down a crevasse in the ice on Tuesday.

Ann Balasubramaniam, chair of the Cambridge Bay Childcare Society, says when a chaperone realized the young boy wasn't in sight during a trip to the west arm of the bay — a popular spot for tobogganing — they thought he might be hiding in the bus or behind a snowbank. But they called RCMP in case it was something more serious. 

And it was. Balasubramaniam said a staff member from the hamlet ended up finding the boy in an ice crevasse up to four-and-a-half-metres deep.

Now, the daycare, along with the hamlet, RCMP detachment and fire department, are warning people in the community about the dangers of ice crevasses. 

"Pretty much every parent within the daycare society was shaken by this," Balasubramaniam said. 

"We had no previous knowledge of crevasses like this."

Boy uninjured

An ice or snow crevasse forms with the tide. In this case, the ebb and flow of the water ended up freezing to create a tunnel-like crevasse near the shoreline. 

Keith Morrison, the hamlet's fire chief, was called to the scene along with at least six other RCMP officers and hamlet staff members. 

According to a news release from the Cambridge Bay RCMP on Friday, an attempt to lower one of the officers into the crevasse failed, so everyone took part in digging around the crevasse to get closer to the boy.

Morrison said that hole was at least as tall as the officers.

Two officers entered the crevasse head first and were able to get the boy out approximately half an hour after he was noticed missing, police said.

We're trying to make sure that the mental health of the children... is prioritized.-  Chair, Cambridge Bay Childcare Society

Balasubramaniam said the boy, whose age and name have not been released for privacy reasons, was responsive and got checked out at the health centre. He wasn't hypothermic and got to go home with his family that evening.

She said the daycare society held a meeting with parents on Tuesday to talk about the incident. 

"We're trying to make sure that the mental health of the children and their understanding of events is prioritized to make sure that there is no fears for the children of the daycare." 

Balasubramaniam said she's also planning on updating the society's risk assessment policies for field trips in and around the community. 

Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, is shown in April 2019 in this CBC file photo. (Mark Hadlari/CBC)

6 adults for 17 kids

In this case, she said parents of the children had signed waivers for the field trip. She also said there were five staff members as well as one parent chaperone supervising the 17 children from the Cambridge Bay Childcare Society.  The hamlet's daycare program was also there with at least 10 kids and their chaperones. 

Balasubramaniam said people in Cambridge Bay are well aware of ice safety and to stay clear of the ice during break up, which starts in about a month. But many people, including fire chief Morrison, who's lived in Cambridge Bay for 21 years, have never seen or heard of anything like this.

Morrison, has since posted a public service announcement online. And some elders are hoping to mark the crevasses in the area.

"It's a good practice to bring a friend and to always have a way to call for help," RCMP said in its news release.

Corrections

  • The original version of this story incorrectly identified Cambridge Bay's fire chief as Keith Morris. In fact, his name is Keith Morrison. It also said the incident happened on Monday. It happened on Tuesday.
    May 10, 2019 9:53 AM CT