MEDICINE HAT — An inquiry into the drowning of a five-year-old girl during a rescue on a southern Alberta lake recommends the RCMP take more of a leadership role in rescue situations.
Janessa Toney died after her family’s boat broke down in a remote comer of Lake Newell near Brooks on Sept. 27, 2008.
A Fish and Wildlife boat that picked up the family, but swamped by high waves and everyone was thrown into the frigid water — Janessa became trapped underneath the boat.
The inquiry heard about a lack of communication between the Mounties, fire and specialized rescue teams and that the RCMP officer in charge, who had no experience in marine rescues, was unaware that she had the option of calling in an air ambulance which ultimately rescued the survivors.
One of the recommendations says the RCMP is mandated by law to be in charge of all water rescue in Alberta and must fulfil that responsibility even when delegating things to other services.
The report also recommends an expansion of STARS air ambulance’s availability and better equipment for rescuers.