A Scottish family is suing a local family as well as the provincial government, RDKB and City of Grand Forks, after a man drowned while tubing on the Kettle River in 2012.
Andrew Barrie, an oil consultant from Scotland, was on holiday in Canada with his wife and son visiting friends in the region. During their visit they joined their friends, the MacNeills and Legares, for tubing down the Kettle.
Barrie, along with Christina Lake residents Ronald (74) and Jacqueline Jean (71) Legare died of drowning after being swept down the falls.
The three were part of a group that was tubing in the area on July 28 and were seen being swept into Cascade Canyon.
At the time, then-Staff Sgt. Jim Harrison told the Gazette, “Apparently, a party of 13 people were tubing on the Kettle River when they were caught up in the current under the Trestle Bridge and three of the party of 13 went over Cascade Falls.”
The lawsuit specifies that Andrew Barrie’s son saw Ron and Jacqueline Legare get swept away. He escaped and managed to pull his mother to shore with him, and then watched as his father floated downstream rapidly.
Andrew Barrie was unable to free himself from the fast-moving waters. The family alleges he “experienced grievous personal injuries, pain and suffering” before he eventually drowned. His body was recovered seven days later approximately one kilometre downstream from Cascade Falls.
In the lawsuit, the family of Andrew Barrie state that tubing down the river is an activity that is promoted at local tourist centres and by the province. They also allege that no warning is given anywhere about the dangers of the falls and the approaching rapids. It also claims that the river was particularly high that year, and was therefore especially dangerous.
The lawsuit names the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations; Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training; Destination BC; RDKB; City of Grand Forks; City of Christina Lake; Scott McNeill; Kathy MacNeill; Jacqueline MacNeill; Jamie MacNeill; the estate of Ron Legare; the estate of Jacqueline Legare; and five separate government entities.
The lawsuit says the Barrie family have experienced “extreme mental suffering” as a result of witnessing Andrew Barrie struggling to escape.
None of the allegations have been proven in court and the defendants have not filed a statement of defence.
The lawsuit was filed on July 23, 2014 with the Vancouver Law Courts and is classified as supreme civil.
John MacLean, chief administrative officer of the RKDB, said the regional district has no jurisdiction over the river and they have not put any warning signs up.
Despite that, the case has been referred to their insurers and they are working their way through the process.
As for the argument about whether anyone is responsible for advertising tubing as a fun activity and not warning enough of dangers, he said, “I’m all for going for a walk every day. If you take my advice and go for a walk and fall down and hurt your ankle, is that my problem?
“We’ve referred this to our municipal insurers and they are preparing a response. While it’s a tragedy we didn’t invite those folks into the water. We don’t control the water. We don’t have any jurisdiction.”
The scheduled hearing date for the case is June 20, 2016 in the Vancouver Law Courts.