Less than 24 hours after the death of a 13-year-old boy attending Lansdowne Middle School, the focus lies on supporting the affected family, and helping the larger school community in any way possible, says the superintendent of School District 61.
“It’s an incredibly tragic event,” said Shelley Green. “We certainly extend our condolences to the family, and [we] want to let them know that our hearts are with them.”
The 13-year-old Grade 8 student died Wednesday afternoon at the scene of a field trip to Camp Barnard near Sooke after a tree struck and pinned him. The teen received CPR on scene, but later succumbed to his injuries. A second Grade 8 student from the school is now recovering at home after receiving treatment for non-life threatening injuries at an area hospital.
The parents of both students have chosen to withhold their respective names, said Green. The parents of the deceased have also chosen to withhold any information about whether he had siblings.
The two students were part of a larger field trip group from Lansdowne Middle School scheduled to remain at the camp for three days. All remaining students have since returned home.
It is officially not clear what caused the tree to strike and pin the boy. Winds gusts of up to 80 km/h blew through the area with its rough terrain, which took responders – aided by students – some time to reach.
Green said the incident remains raw, but added that the school would launch a full investigation to find out what happened. With one week left in the school year, the focus is on supporting the family and the school community at large, said Green, adding that surrounding school districts have already reached out with offers of help and support.
The school district’s Critical Incident Response Team has been deployed since Wednesdays afternoon to support students, staff and families, said Green. The school itself will also have counsellors available for any students and staff, who may need or want help or any type of assistance, she said in a letter posted on the school’s site and its Facebook page, where individuals have been sharing condolences.
I want to offer my sincere condolences to the family and to those kids at Lansdowne Middle School who are grieving the loss of a friend, at what was supposed to be a joyous end to the school year. My heartfelt sorrow goes out to all those who are touched by this tragic accident.
— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) June 20, 2019
“So terribly tragic,” wrote Lara Forbes. “As a parent of a middle schooler whose husband also teaches middle school I just cannot imagine the trauma for the family and also teachers and students. Such a terrible fluke disaster at a camp my kids have attended quite often.”
“So sad,” said Courtenay Leah. “My [Grade 8] is having a graduation Friday, so heartbreaking some family won’t be celebrating.”
The president of the school’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC) declined official comment.