Judge finds Revelstoke partially guilty after tourist dives into lake seriously injured | iNFO news

Two young girls were rescued from Lake Okanagan near Vernon on Sunday, August

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January 21, 2022 – 7.30 am

The city of Revelstoke has been held partially liable after a Surrey firefighter dived into a lake and suffered catastrophic injuries.

BC Supreme Court judge Karen Horsman ruled that the city was 35 percent liable for the accident, although the rock from which firefighter Aaron Gelowitz plunged into the lake was on private property.

The case dates back to 2015, when Gelowitz was vacationing at a campground with his family and some friends at the city-owned Williamson Lake Park and Campground in Revelstoke.

According to the decision of the Supreme Court of BC, the campsite, which is owned by the city, is located on the shore of the lake.

One day Gelowitz decided to swim across the small lake to the other shore. He then dove into the lake first and hit something. The water was dark and although Gelowitz was performing a “shallow dive”, he hit a submerged object, possibly a submerged block. He was taken to hospital in Revelstoke before finally being flown to Vancouver, where he spent months in hospital with a spinal cord injury.

Gelowitz then sued the city of Revelstoke, arguing that the city was negligent in not having a sign telling people not to dive in the lake due to underwater hazards.

He admitted he was 50 percent guilty, but claimed the city was also 50 percent guilty.

Gelowitz had originally named the Revelstoke Alpine Village in the civil suit because the company owns the tract of land on the eastern shore where it plunged into the lake. The decision states that he has reached a settlement with the company.

According to court documents, the land is uncultivated, forested and fallow.

The City of Revelstoke argued that it was not Gelowitz’s duty of care to warn him of the dangers of diving off land it did not own.

However, the judge disagreed that the city facilitated access to the eastern shore by maintaining a raft in the middle of the small lake, and was well aware that people jumped from the rocks on the eastern side.

Gelowitz had stopped by the raft as he swam across the lake.

“It was reasonably foreseeable that such hazards could be present on the Eastern Shore, an area that park users, to the city’s knowledge, routinely traveled to. , a foreseeable consequence of the city’s violation of the standard of care by failure ( have) of visible signs warning against diving at the point (Gelowitz) entering the lake and on the raft.”

According to the decision, a sign had been painted on the dock in 2012 according to a safety audit of the campsite facilities.

The decision says there was no evidence that the signs were repainted afterward, and either way, Gelowitz had entered the lake through another access point and would therefore “don’t dive” the sign on the dock or any other sign passed by the main beach.

The sign painted on the dock in 2012 was no longer visible in 2015, and several witnesses have stated that they did not see any signs on the raft on the day of the incident.

The lengthy 21,000 word decision includes testimonials from several expert witnesses in fields ranging from risk management to water-related injury specialists.

While the experts agree that the city should have signs warning users of the risk of diving, they disagreed on what was required of the city when designing and installing signs in this case.

The Court then assessed the culpability of both parties.

(Gelowitz) was the person primarily responsible for his own safety. He has acknowledged that it was imprudent to dive into the lake based on a visual inspection of the water alone. He admits he knew better. “The plaintiff’s claim that the water was deep enough for a safe shallow dive based on visual inspection alone was not reasonable. The plaintiff did not meet the standard of care required of him under the circumstances,” Judge Horsman said in the decision. “At the same time… the city had a duty to warn parking users of the risks of diving. The city also fell far short of its standard of care, particularly with regard to the maintenance of warning signs on the raft. The city has a specific Receiving risk management advice and not following it to paint and maintain ‘no dive’ signs on the raft… was serious.”

Judge Horsman thus rules that Gelowitz is 65 percent guilty and the city of Revelstoke 35 percent. The verdict did not mention any damages or costs.


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