How many little kids have gone missing in British Columbia so far this summer? Three? Four? I’ve lost count. Fortunately, they’ve all been found alive and unscathed except for mosquito bites.
In early May, a two-year-old went missing at 7 p.m. while walking with his mom and two siblings in Premier Lake Provincial Campground near Kimberley.
Seventy police officers and volunteers, a police dog, and two helicopters combed the bushes overnight for the tot who was found at 11 a.m. the next morning. He had managed to walk 2km toward Yankee Lake.
More recently on August 15, a three-year-old boy last seen mid afternoon playing with his brother in their yard biked off alone on his push pedal bike from their home near Courtenay on Vancouver Island.
After a frantic all-night search involving family, neighbours, 16 search and rescue volunteers, RCMP, a police helicopter, police dogs, a drone and a vessel patrolling the shoreline, the tot was found mid-morning next day by searchers riding an SUV along a logging road.
He had covered some 5km eating blueberries as he went. He told rescuers he had biked around piles of dog poop ( in reality bear droppings).
Whether these kids went missing from their homes or while camping in a park, I gather all were in “wilderness” areas as so much of B.C. tends to be.
Only parents who’ve experienced even the momentary disappearance of a tot know how much distance stubby little two-year-old legs can navigate in seconds.
When my kids were two and three, we lived close – too close – to the Skeena River.
They knew the rules, both dad and I repeated the shorthand version each time we buttoned their jackets and sent them out the door, but kids being kids, it didn’t take much to distract them.
The younger one, particularly, loved birds and flowers. She would follow a robin all over the yard as it moved from this bush to that grassy patch.
The fact that beyond the driveway most of the yard was rough vegetation, high as the kid’s waist or higher, didn’t impede her bird watching.
And if she spotted a flower, particularly an outstandingly beautiful or unusual specimen, she set her GPS to hone in on a fistful.
One spring, when the river was rising during melt, she spied a yellow flower growing some eight feet below level ground.
With eyes glued on the blossom, she picked her way down a stony path then along the ridge until she was within grasping distance of the prize.
Fortunately it was then I noticed her missing from their sandbox and grabbed her before she could tumble down the 20 foot embankment to the water.
It was the closest call we had during our seven years living within spitting distance of the water.
When we moved to an urban lot, dad surrounded it by a five-foot-high board fence. It gave me my first chance to relax without checking out the window every few minutes to make sure the kids were nearby and safe.
I have to wonder if cell phones and other media play a part in taking parents’ attention off their kids.
Leaving Mills Hospital one day, I met a mom checking her emails as she strode toward the elevators. Her three-year-old had not yet entered the building.
And Monday, a family of five parked in front of Dairy Queen, mom locked the van with her fob and sprinted up the stairs before her young son had stepped out of the van.
A lot can go awry in seconds if we depend upon our young children to do as we expect.