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Six-year-old injured in fall from resort's rock-climbing wall

Ministry of Labour is investigating following incident last Friday at Horseshoe Resort

ORO-MEDONTE TWP. - The Ministry of Labour is investigating after a young boy was seriously injured in a fall from the 40-foot rock-climbing wall at Horseshoe Resort last Friday.

OPP Sgt. Peter Leon confirmed the six-year-old was airlifted to a Toronto-area trauma centre after initially being taken to Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie.

The Ministry of Labour is investigating the incident, Leon said Thursday morning.

Janet Deline, spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour, said the incident was reported to the ministry on Friday, Aug. 24 and an inspector attended the scene to investigate.

"Two requirements and one order was issued to Horseshoe Resort not to disturb the rock climbing wall (lifted), for materials at the base of the rock climbing wall (in progress), and to provide workers with instruction (in progress)," Deline said. 

The ministry inspector returned to the site on Monday, Aug. 27, but no additional orders were issued.

"The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) sets out the rights and duties of parties in the workplace, with respect to the health and safety of workers. Our role is to help ensure compliance with the Act and regulations," Deline said. "The OHSA contains requirements for employers to report certain events to the Ministry of Labour.

"The employer has a duty under the OHSA to report all fatal and critical injuries to a person at a workplace," Deline added. "This may apply to members of the public, when the hazard also poses a potential risk to workers."

The ministry investigation is ongoing.

Deline said she did not have any information on the boy’s condition or the injuries sustained.

According to a CITY-TV report, which identified the boy as Ben McDermott, he suffered a broken femur, fractures to his neck and spine, broken ribs and pelvis, as well as small tears to his lungs. He remains in a full body cast at SickKids hospital in Toronto.

Orillia OPP Const. Martin Hill said the Ministry of Labour is taking the lead in the investigation, “but that could change” if there is determined to be any criminal negligence.

“If there’s a criminal element, they’ll let us know,” he said.

Emergency crews responded to the resort, located about a half-hour north of Barrie on Horseshoe Valley Road West between Lines 3 and 4, at 11:40 a.m., on Friday, Aug. 24.

In an email to BarrieToday, Horseshoe Resort marketing manager Val Hamilton said there was limited information available about the fall as the investigation is ongoing.

“This past Friday we had an unfortunate incident on our rock-climbing wall,” Hamilton said. “The attraction will remain closed for ongoing investigations.

“I can confirm that we have never had an incident occur on our rock-climbing wall in the past,” Hamilton added. “We are working closely the proper authorities to understand how this happened.

“Our thoughts are with the boy and his family.”

Deline said the ministry's investigative process may include: examination at the scene and any equipment involved; interviewing witnesses such as supervisors, employees and anyone else who may have relevant information; issue orders to address any contraventions to the OHSA.

“The length of investigations will depend on the complexities of the case,” Deline said.

Raymond Bowe

About the Author: Raymond Bowe

Raymond is an award-winning journalist who has been reporting from Simcoe County since 2000
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