Girl flees into ocean at mental health facility in Saanich

Two boaters are being credited for rescuing a 15-year-old girl from the cold ocean off Finnerty Cove this afternoon.

Two boaters are being credited for rescuing a 15-year-old girl from the cold ocean off Finnerty Cove this afternoon.

Around 1:45 p.m. on Wednesday a young patient from Ledger House, at the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s House in the Cadboro Bay area, was walking outside with a staff member when she ran to the beach and into the water, said Saanich police Sgt. Steve Eassie.

“The youth refused to acknowledge the direction of staff to return to the shoreline and the youth swam out into the middle of the bay,” he said.

Two boats nearby attended and pulled the girl out of the water, following a brief struggle. She was subsequently taken to hospital. Police say the teen was in the ocean for 21 minutes and was between 100 and 150 metres offshore.

“We are especially thankful for the assistance from the two boats and their occupants that rendered the timely help in removing the female from the water,” Eassie said.

Ledger House is a 13-bed facility for kids aged six to 17 who require hospitalized psychiatric care as a result of mental health issues such as trauma, anxiety, complex ADHD or depression.

The incident drew out and involved a small army of first responders – the Canadian Coast Guard, the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre, the Saanich police and fire departments, the Victoria Police Marine Response Unit, the Greater Victoria Integrated Police Dive Team, and the B.C. Ambulance Service. The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre also dispatched a Cormorant helicopter to the scene.

Sarah Plank, spokesperson for the Vancouver Island Health Authority, says the organization will launch a review of its policies and procedures.

“Whenever an incident occurs we do review it because we want to make sure we’re doing everything that we can to ensure patient safety,” she said.

A patient’s access to the grounds – accompanied or not – is determined on a day-to-day basis, depending on their medical condition.

Plank said the girl was quickly released from hospital and returned to Ledger House.

kslavin@saanichnews.com