A Calgary mother is in disbelief after her young daughter fell through a broken sewer lid at a Tourism Saskatchewan rest stop in Maple Creek.
“I was standing right there beside her. I tried to grab her. I touched her hand and I didn’t … I didn’t catch her in time,” Denaie McCarthy said of the moment that 21-month-old Nataya fell through.
Thankfully, McCarthy’s husband, Trevor Pickersgill, heard the girl scream and jumped down the approximately 10-foot drop behind his daughter.
“He didn’t think for a second and jumped in and grabbed Nataya because she was getting pulled towards the building through another tunnel of some sort,” McCarthy said. “He reached in there, grabbed her leg, pulled her out and held her up and her eyes were all bug-eyed and she started crying.”
McCarthy described how the next few moments felt like forever as people nearby ran over with rope and hauled her daughter out of the sewer.
“When that lid collapsed, I can’t even describe words because … it was the most horrible thing in my life,” she said.
Nataya has a two-inch gash on the back of her head and a lot of scrapes and bruises, but her mom says she’s starting to recover and get back to her normal self.
The family had been travelling to visit McCarthy’s mother in Regina when they stopped to eat and stretch their legs at the picnic area.
McCarthy says this should never have happened in a public area that is maintained by the province. She notes that the sewer was in an open area quite close to the picnic table and she didn’t spot it as a potential danger.
“My kids were playing where any kids would play, like it’s a tourist spot and so if it didn’t happen to my kids, it would have happened to somebody else,” she said.
“I thank all my stars that it turned out the way it did … because I might have not had my baby anymore.”
McCarthy said a woman with Tourism Saskatchewan called the family later that night to apologize and assure them that they are fixing the problem and checking other sites for similar issues. When they returned to the area the next day, she said the lid on the sewer was more secure and she was told the province is getting a steel grate to replace the lid.
“But it took something like this for them to even think about it,” McCarthy said, questioning why the lid wasn’t safe to begin with and why the sewer wasn’t at least fenced off or locked.
She said she is thankful that the tourism agency is stepping up and she hopes they check everywhere.