St. Albert girl dies in B.C. crash

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Local school in mourning for classmate and family

A 10-year-old girl killed on Lake Okanagan, near Kelowna, last Friday was from St. Albert.

Emily Chaplin was a student at Sir Alexander Mackenzie school and was enrolled to begin Grade 5 on Wednesday, said SAM principal John Strembitsky.

“It puts a huge, negative shadow on the beginning of the year but I wouldn’t even comprehend the difficulty that the family is going through,” he said.

Chaplin was killed after the personal watercraft she was riding collided with a boat. A local relative confirmed the identity and the residence of the girl. The relative said the family is still in Kelowna and isn’t prepared to comment at this time.

Strembitsky said the impact of Emily’s death will be felt most strongly among her fellow Grade 5s. He described her as an “absolutely wonderful girl.”

“We’re going to miss her. She’d strike up a conversation with anybody. She’s always cheerful and friendly,” he said.

“All life is precious. It would be tough to lose anybody. This one’s going to be a real tough one,” he added.

The school will have counselling services available for students and staff and will also hold some form of memorial, Strembitsky said.

The Kelowna RCMP received a call about the incident at around 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26. Chaplin was pronounced dead at the scene after attempts were made to resuscitate her. Her 18-year-old brother Jarett was driving the Yamaha Waverunner when it collided with a 20-foot Cobalt boat. He was taken to hospital in Kelowna following the incident and was expected to be released Tuesday.

Sgt. Ann Morrison with the Kelowna RCMP said the boaters were moving toward another jet-ski in the water that appeared to be unmanned when they collided with the Waverunner.

She said investigators are still trying to determine how the accident happened.

“That is all part of the investigation. We are not sure who struck who or who had the right of way or anything like that.”

She said mechanical inspections of both vessels were underway and they hoped to have more answers later in the week.

“Both vessels were being looked at today and tomorrow, so we will probably know more by the end of the week.”

Morrison said the only thing police were willing to rule out at this time was alcohol or any other criminal act.

“It appears to be non-criminal in nature,” she said. “Purely accidental with unfortunately a tragic ending.”

The Chaplin family held a memorial service for Emily on Tuesday afternoon at Lake Okanagan, spreading her ashes and 1,000 roses across the water. Between 70 and 80 people were expected to attend that service. A memorial is also planned for St. Albert next Thursday.

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