A rescue operation to save a mother and her seven-month-old son from the frigid waters of the Puntledge River ended in tragedy Friday.
Crowds of onlookers watched as emergency workers including RCMP, Comox Valley Search & Rescue and the Courtenay Fire Department completed the rescue along the banks of the river in Courtenay.
Emergency service personnel were dispatched at approximately 2:30 p.m. Friday afternoon, after reports came in of a woman and a baby in the water. Rescue workers found the baby in the river near the Condensory Bridge at approximately 3 p.m. and were seen performing CPR before transporting the child to St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Approximately one hour later, the mother was pulled out of the water and into a boat.
Despite the efforts of multiple rescue and medical personnel, the 26-year-old Comox Valley woman pulled from the water did not survive.
She was identified Monday as Veronika Sophie Weaver, from Comox.
The woman’s seven-month-old son was airlifted to BC Children’s Hospital, where he remains at this time. His condition was last listed as critical.
“Our heartfelt sympathies go out to this family”, said Staff Sgt. Kevin Mazur, Plain Clothes Commander with the Comox Valley RCMP. “Based on the evidence and information we have gathered so far, there is no indication that any third party was involved in the pair entering the water.”
Investigators ask anyone who may have witnessed the pair near or in the waters of the Puntledge River prior to 2:40 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 30 to call the Comox Valley RCMP at 250-338-1321.
Meanwhile, the community continues to come to grips with the tragedy.
“The city of Courtenay is only about 26,000 people so it’s really not a big city – the whole area is only about 65,000 – so indirectly most of us know something about most of us,” said Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula. “Our concern, of course is toward this person’s family, the parents, all the people involved. It’s a very difficult thing.”
Jangula commended all those involved in the rescue operation.
“The RCMP, the firefighters, the ambulance, the Search And Rescue people all did just an outstanding job,” he said. “I can tell you from personal experience, having been with the RCMP, that it’s bad enough for first responders when there’s tragedy or accidents but it’s 10 times as bad when there is a child involved.”
-With files from RCMP