Tragedy strikes – Two children dead after separate drowning incidents

Tom Sasvari

The Recorder

MANITOULIN––The communities of Assiginack and Wikwemikong are in a state of shock after two young Island children died in separate drowning accidents while at family gatherings.

On Monday, July 23 at 7:30 pm, a young couple, Victor Reckman and Karen James Reckman, along with their six children, were attending a family picnic to celebrate the couple’s anniversary. The picnic was located on the shore of South Bay in Assiginack Township, south of Manitowaning.

The Manitoulin Ontario Provincial Police report that after the picnic, the couple and children were playing along the shore of the water when the mother looked away momentarily to change the diaper of one of the other infants. When she looked back, the 21-month-old toddler, Stephen, was gone and a quick search located the infant floating face down in the shallow water. The father immediately started cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the infant while 911 was called. Police and ambulance attended and transported the infant to the Mindemoya hospital where the infant was pronounced dead by the attending physician.

A post mortem examination was to be conducted in Wednesday, July 25 in Sudbury to determine the exact cause of death.

The investigation is being conducted by members of the Manitoulin OPP.

The day of tragedy follows another which took place on Sunday, in which a six-year-old boy drowned in Wikwemikong.

Six year-old Waaweyeseh Bell, the son of Harvey Bell and Liz Shense Eshkibok-Biisinai, drowned in the King’s Bay beach (located at the end of Rabbit Island Road in Wikwemikong on Sunday). A Facebook page had invited friends and family to the youngster’s sixth birthday party, which included cake and snacks at a family member’s home followed by the beach for an afternoon of swimming.

The Wikwemikong Tribal Police has only released a few details of the incident thus far. Constable Jamie Peltier confirmed that Waaweyeseh Bell had drowned in the bay at approximately 4 pm Sunday afternoon. Constable Peltier said the police are still interviewing witnesses about the drowning and could not yet determine the events surrounding the death. The constable did say that CPR did occur upon the six-year-old being pulled from the lake. The child was taken to the Little Current site of the Manitoulin Health Centre where he was pronounced dead.

“The police service always encourages parents to be vigilant when dealing with children and water,” Constable Peltier told The Expositor. “Accidents can and do occur. This is not an isolated incident, as there have been numerous drownings throughout Ontario this summer.”

A post-mortem examination was to take place this past Tuesday at the Health Sciences North’s Ramsey Lake Health Centre in Sudbury.