The family of a Chilliwack, B.C., man who drowned in Osoyoos Lake under bizarre circumstances is asking for witnesses to come forward.
On June 29, Bradley Ker, 31, was playing with his two-year-old son in shallow water near the Nk’Mip RV Park, when he disappeared at approximately 5 p.m.
Beachgoers soon noticed the child was alone and his father was missing.
Ker’s sister, Kristy Owen, said Bradley was vacationing at the campground with his wife and their children.
“I don’t think he was any deeper than his waist and, at some point, someone saw his son on his own and didn’t know where the adult was. And quickly after that, they found my brother,” she told Global News.
Police said bystanders located Ker in waist-deep water. It’s unknown if the healthy young man with no history of medical issues suffered a medical episode.
“I have questions about whether it was something that went wrong with his heart,” Owen said.
“I want to know if I’ll get the answers that we are looking for, or if we will always be wondering what happened.”
The family is asking for witnesses to the drowning to come forward.
“We are wanting answers. It doesn’t make sense,” she said.
“We haven’t heard of anyone coming forward. That’s exactly what I asked. How can this happen on such a busy Osoyoos beach and no one saw anything?”
Ker said she was told a nurse on the beach attempted CPR, but that no AED was readily available.
“They had to have somebody go up to Spirit Ridge to get an automatic external defibrillator (AED) and if it did sense a heart rhythm, it could have really helped,” she said.
“The ambulance took over 20 minutes and I can’t even imagine standing there and waiting for that.”
“I would have assumed that they would have some sort of medical supply kit that someone could easily grab,” Owen said.
“I was quite surprised to hear that they would have to have someone to physically drive up to Spirit Ridge to get an AED. So there should be first aid, AED, those are just the basics.”
In an email, BC Emergency Health Services said paramedics were on scene 13 minutes after the initial call.
“This is an expected response time to the location given the distance, terrain and location,” spokesperson Lesley Pritchard said, adding that there were no delays in response.
“In addition to several paramedics on scene, including an advance care team, one of our paramedic specialists who was off duty (camping in the area) responded and helped care for the patient.”
In a statement, the NK’Mip RV Park’s administration noted that the coroner has not yet ruled whether or not Ker drowned.
“Numerous members of the RV Park staff are certified first aid providers,” spokesperson Andrew Stuckey said in an email.
“Radios issued to many staff allow for prompt action as necessary. However, the RV Park is large and events that occur away from the common area do require additional response time.”
He also said that in the weeks prior to Ker’s death, the Osoyoos Indian Band initiated an AED placement program that includes a 60-day rollout to its business units, including the placement of an AED unit at Nk’Mip RV Park.
“However, park administration understands the placement of an AED unit at the common swim area would likely not have provided any assistance to the deceased,” Stuckey said, adding that the units are largely effective within the first three minutes of a sudden cardiac arrest.
“The deceased was discovered well away from the common swim area, making it difficult to get a unit to his location within that brief timeframe,” Stuckey said.
As a proactive step, park administration will undertake a review of safety policies and procedures to further reduce risk to patrons and staff, he added.
Owen described her brother as a caretaker and provider who was protective of the people he loved.
“He was so funny. He always made me laugh. He was really sensitive. He was always the one that I called if I was struggling with something. He’s there for me all the time,” she said.
“He was so loyal and trustworthy and loving.”
Ker was an electrician and breadwinner of the family.
A family friend has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the family Ker left behind. More than $30,000 has already been raised.
“Being a single mom with two boys when you are used to having someone’s income, I want this money to give her some time to grieve and not have to make any big decisions about their finances or changes where they are going to live,” she said.