Three-year-old Quinlan Stamford drowned Wednesday, April 13, after his family's pickup truck flipped off the end of the New Brighton dock on Gambier Island.
According to Cpl. Larry Burden of the Sunshine Coast RCMP, the boy was alone in the cab of the truck while his parents, Mike and Kate, loaded supplies into the back of the truck.
"The child is believed to have turned on the ignition, causing the standard transmission vehicle to lurch forward and flip over the eight-inch retaining wall into the water below," said Burden in a press release April 14. "The father immediately dove into the water and after several attempts to reach the submerged vehicle was able to retrieve the child from the wreckage."
Three Coast Guard vessels, an RCMP boat, the Stormaway ferry and a rescue boat launched from the Queen of Surrey ferry all rushed to the dock to assist in the rescue efforts. Steve Sawyer of the Gibsons Coast Guard Auxiliary said the Coast Guard Zodiac arrived at New Brighton within 20 minutes of receiving the Code 3 emergency call.
"When we got there, the father was in the water, diving down to the truck," said Sawyer. "Apparently the father got the door open, but he couldn't find the boy."
Within five minutes, Sawyer said, the father had managed to grab the boy and handed him to a man in a rowboat, who passed the boy to the Coast Guard boat. Auxiliary member Adrian White began CPR immediately, but "the baby did not look very good," Sawyer said.
Soon, two ambulance paramedics who had been travelling on the Queen of Surrey arrived in the ferry rescue boat and took over CPR while the Coast Guard Auxiliary transported Quinlan to the Langdale ferry terminal, where two ambulances met them. His parents followed in another boat. Quinlan, accompanied by his mother, was evacuated to B.C. Children's Hospital by helicopter. His father was treated for hypothermia at St. Mary's Hospital in Sechelt.
The boy could not be revived.
Sawyer described the effort to rescue Quinlan as "the saddest one I've ever done."
"It's just one of those fluke things," he said.
The RCMP investigation continued at the New Brighton dock Thursday, where police divers were working to retrieve the pickup truck for a mechanical inspection.
Burden described Quinlan's death as "an unfortunate, preventable tragedy."
"Police wish to remind parents not to leave children unattended in vehicles," Burden said.