A four-year-old boy was found dead in an empty, abandoned pool in Grande Prairie Monday evening after he was reported missing.
RCMP said they were called around 7 p.m. to reports of the missing boy in Muskoseepi Park. Mounties, police dogs, the fire department and search and rescue workers were all called in to help find the child.
He was found dead at 9:30 p.m. in the Bear Creek Pool, which is located within the park.
While the pool was drained, RCMP said several feet of water had accumulated due to recent rainfall. The mayor could not say when the pool was drained last.
“Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family of this boy,” Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given said. “No words can describe the sense of loss our community feels at this time.”
“The city of Grande Prairie and the entire community is behind them at this tragic time.”
Bear Creek Pool has been closed since 2013. It requires massive upgrades and the fate of the site has been under debate at Grande Prairie city council for several years.
A statement from the City of Grande Prairie said since the closure, staff have regularly drained the pool of accumulated water. Before Monday’s death, the city said there had been no reported security breaches at the facility.
RCMP said there was a chain-link fence surrounding the pool, in which there was a visible hole. RCMP couldn’t say if the boy managed to get inside through that hole in the fence, but it is being investigated as a possibility.
“The child’s point of access into the pool area has not been firmly established,” the RCMP said in a news release Wednesday, “and is part of the active investigation.”
“My understanding is this is the first recorded incident of any breach of the security of that facility since it’s been closed,” the mayor said. “From time to time, I believe the facility is used for storage.
“The most recent information from city staff and from RCMP is that the facility appeared to be secured at the time of the incident.”
Given said staff and hired security make routine checks of the park.
“City staff regularly check the facility to ensure that it continues to be secure,” Given said. “Over the years, our facilities department is regularly in the building and on the property and our contracted security throughout the park do make that a regular stop on their checks.”
The mayor also said the area is monitored by video cameras. The city has turned over video surveillance to the RCMP to review.
“The City of Grande Prairie will assist the RCMP in its investigation,” Given said, adding that further details about the death would come from police.
Grande Prairie is 450 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.