WATCH: View Royal fire chief says ‘enough is enough’ and calls on CRD for immediate action after another serious Thetis Lake cliff jumping accident. Tess van Straaten reports.
Cliff jumping is a popular pastime at Thetis Lake but it’s also a dangerous one, with lots of rocks, shallow water and steep slopes.
“There’s definitely some perils involved for sure,” Carly Mann, who was watching friends jump Thursday afternoon, said. “It’s a calculated risk I guess.”
A 26-year-old woman suffered serious head and back injuries and almost drowned around 5:45 p.m. Wednesday after jumping off the Sunnyside Cliffs.
“She slipped and fell backwards, landing on the rocks head-first,” View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst said. “And then her lower back hit the rocks and she bounced off the rocks and into the water.”
The woman was knocked unconscious and other swimmers rushed to help, holding her head above water and saving her life.
“If they hadn’t have been there, this would have been a case where she probably would have drowned not three feet from the shore,” Hurst said.
But the incident, and previous fatalities and serious injuries, aren’t stopping people from taking the plunge.
“That’s kinda scary,” Colby Gillard said, but he planned to continue jumping.
“If you go to do it and hesitate at all, that’s when it gets really dangerous,” Jacob Sanders added.
There are no warning signs at Sunnyside Cliffs about the hazards and this latest incident is renewing calls for signage, fencing and banning the dangerous activity altogether.
“The reality is this is a problem that’s not going away,” Hurst said. “It’s been an issue for 30 years and everybody keeps ignoring it.”
Hurst said “enough is enough” and he’s calling on the Capital Regional District, which operates the park, to take immediate action.
“These accidents are preventable accidents and it’s high time that the powers that be start looking at the lake and looking at the cliffs and make some real decisions about what to do,” he said.
If he had his way, Hurst would blast Sunnyside Cliff and the one on the opposite side known as “Big Ben”, where almost all of the incidents happen.
“I’d drill it and I’d blast it right down to water level at about a 30-degree angle,” Hurst said. “No cliffs. Problem solved.”
But at the very least, the veteran first responder wants the daredevil activity banned before someone else dies.