'Just an amazing kid': Tragic sailboat accident claims life of disabled Victoria teen
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Thursday, June 28, 2018 5:29PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 28, 2018 6:38PM PDT
A disabled Victoria teen who died in a tragic accident one week ago is being remembered as an outgoing, energetic and passionate young man by family and friends.
Sixteen-year-old Gabriel Pollard, who suffered from a severe form of muscular dystrophy, returned from a sailboat outing with the Disabled Sailing Association of Victoria to a dock off Admirals Road on Thursday.
As he was being lifted out of the boat, part of the lift mechanism broke, sending him crashing onto the boat deck.
He then slid into the water and was wearing a lifejacket, but it took several minutes before staff were able to get him out of the water.
Gabriel was reportedly conscious when paramedics loaded him into an ambulance, but scared and in pain, he suffered a seizure on the way to the hospital.
Staff at Victoria General tried to revive him, but were unsuccessful in their attempts and pronounced the teen dead.
According to family members, Gabriel's autopsy results showed that he suffered a broken back in two places and inhaled water from the ocean.
The entire incident unfolded in front of his horrified mother.
"It is a parent's and a family's worst nightmare," Gabriel's uncle wrote on a GoFundMe page launched to help support the family. "I know my sister will never be the same, and we have lost the last years of this amazing young man's life."
His family is asking for privacy but issued a statement on the teen's death on Thursday.
"His end was tragic, unnecessary and came far too soon," they said. "The coroner's investigation is ongoing and while nothing will bring him back we await the findings. There are many, many unanswered questions surrounding his death."
CTV News contacted the Disabled Sailing Association to ask about the state of the gear Gabriel was being lifted with.
The director of the organization said it's the only accident they've ever had, but the program has been suspended as they investigate what happened.
Meanwhile, those who knew Gabe – who was a fixture at Harbourcats and Victoria Royals games – are remembering his incredible spirit.
"He was just an amazing kid. He was a wise kid, he was a caring kid, he was a resilient kid," said Candace Stretch, a worker at the Cridge Centre.
"One of my favourites. He came to the ballpark to take everything in, he was a baseball fan," said Harbourcats General Manager Brad Norris-Jones. "It was something that I would look forward to when I knew they were coming to a game. Special young man, always had a smile, was a joker…he was a happy young man."
In addition to the GoFundMe page, the family is asking the public to commemorate Gabriel by supporting the many charities he was associated with like the MD Society, Help Fill a Dream, Ronald McDonald House, Variety Children's Charity and the Cridge Centre.
A celebration of life for Gabriel is planned for Aug. 11, 1 p.m. at Pearkes Arena.