Boy left behind after field trip to a Saanich Park

Boy left behind after field trip to a Saanich Park

A Victoria man went through a parent’s nightmare when his son was left behind in a Saanich Park, in the care of an out-of-school program. And while Bill Ralph wishes to thank the family that stayed with his 6-year-old son before police found him safely, he’s still shaken by the fact his boy was left by himself for two hours after the field trip group had taken off from the park.

After a day at work, Bill Ralph returns home for some time with his 6-year-old son Graham.

It’s time he is thankful for after a phone call from the Quadra Village Community Centre just after 4 Tuesday afternoon.

“I got a phone call asking me if I had picked him up, and I said no,” Bill Ralph said.

“Then they asked me if I had someone come and pick him up, I said no and then they told me he wasn’t there.”

Graham was one of 16 children, under the supervision of two camp leaders, that went to Beckwith Park in Saanich for a field trip.

But when the group headed back, Graham wasn’t with them.

“I didn’t notice them leave,” Graham Ralph said.

“The other person said I saw someone in the orange shirt leave with the group.”

“They said they had counted him here getting off the bus and which is obviously not true,” Bill Ralph added.

The Executive Director of the Quadra Village Community Centre says two head counts were completed that matched, but there is another step that caused confusion.

“What should happen is that it should also be matched with an attendance list,” Kelly Greenwell said.

“And so that’s the hard part about the situation, there was confusion among staff about that being the protocol.”

“For them to miss two counts and miscount my son is, you know, I think ludicrous,” Ralph said.

Saanich Police says this can be used as a lesson.

“Just going through those checklists of who’s here, just like roll call and all sorts of scenarios can be very important,” Cst. Damian Kowalewich said

The community centre has reached out to Ralph and other families since the incident.

“Reassuring them, I think they’re satisfied,” Greenwell said.

“But it’s a lot to go through for a family, so I don’t expect him to accept any reassurance at this point.”

“They’ve asked me what they could do to make amends and I said there’s really nothing you can do to make amends for losing my child,” Ralph said.

Graham stayed safe by approaching a lady at the park and played with her grandchildren before finally being found by police.

And with it, the highlight of his day.

“But I have one thing, I get to drive in a police car,” said the younger Ralph.

For Graham, reuniting with his dad may have been the second-best thing that happened.

Andy NealAndy Neal

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