A B.C. Supreme Court Justice has ruled the City of Revelstoke partly responsible after a Surrey firefighter dove into a lake and suffered injuries.
British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Karen Horsman ruled the city was 35 per cent responsible for the accident on Jan. 13.
The judge concluded that the city owed a duty of care to the plaintiff and that it did not meet the standard of care required in the circumstances.
Aaron Gelowitz was vacationing with his family in Revelstoke when the incident occurred on July 27, 2015, according to a statement of claim filed in court.
They were staying at Williamson’s Lake campground when Gelowitz decided to swim across the lake to a rock on the other side. He dove into the water, where his head struck an object, leaving him critically injured.
He suffered a large cut to the head and was air-lifted to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, according to an RCMP news release issued after the incident. RCMP said he was experiencing numbness in his arms and legs.
Gelowitz then sued the city of Revelstoke, stating that the city was negligent for not having a sign telling people not to dive into the lake due to underwater dangers.
There was a dispute between the plaintiff and the city as to the precise location of Gelowitz’s dive and what his head struck. The city claimed he struck his head on visible submerged rocks, not as Gelowitz claimed that he struck his head on a submerged stump.
The claim says he suffered a severe burst fracture of his C6 vertebra, with associated spinal cord injury, confining him to a wheelchair.
Gelowitz’s statement of claim says he took reasonable precautions in evaluating whether the water was deep enough to dive into.
“Had the defendants posted more prominent signage in proper locations, the plaintiff would not have dove into Williamson’s Lake,” the claim states. “The defendants owed a duty of care that when the plaintiff entered the Williamson Lake Campground, he would be reasonably safe in using the premises.”
The shore from which Gelowitz dove is owned by Revelstoke Alpine Village, a private company. They entered a settlement agreement with the plaintiff, who thereby waived his right to recover any portion of the loss attributable to the fault of Alpine Village.
The judgment did not specify damages or costs.
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