The spray park at the Mission Leisure Centre has been shut down after an incident this morning (July 14) left several children with sore eyes, burning lips and even burns on their face.
Mission Fire Rescue Services and BC Ambulance Services were called to the scene after several children began to cry and complain of a burning pain.
Colleen Draganov was at the park with her children when the incident occurred.
“One of the girls that we were with started crying and she couldn’t open her eyes. Her mouth was stinging and her eyes were stinging. She now has burns on her face.”
A few moments later, Draganov’s daughter began to cry.
“She’s four and she’s crying because her lips are all swollen and red … Then kids just started to come towards us, maybe four or five more.”
They all had similar symptoms.
Draganov called 911 and emergency crews arrived and treated the children.
Carli Emary was also at the park with her two children. Her six-year-old, William, was the first child to begin crying.
“He came out of no where, screaming and covering his eyes. I thought he had been stung by a bee at first, but no, he said ‘it burns, it burns’ and I started to hear other kids screaming,” said Emary.
Staff at the leisure centre offered what assistance they could until the paramedics arrived.
Emary’s son William was taken to hospital, but later released.
“It scared him. He though he was dying at first and then thought he was going blind. I had to calm him down.”
While the cause of the incident is unknown, Emary believes it was pepper spray.
“I got it in my mouth after touching him and I’ve been in a crowd that has been pepper sprayed and it’s the exact same feeling.”
Maureen Sinclair, director of Parks, Recreation and Culture said at this time they do not know what caused the incident.
“The spray park has been closed down at least for the day. Staff are cleaning everything up because it appeared that something was being passed from child to child,” said Sinclair.
“We don’t know what the cause of it was, but we’ll test it and retest it and run it in the morning and make sure everything is OK.”
The Mission RCMP were also called and are investigating.
According to a press release, the Mission RCMP are currently working with the District of Mission to determine the origin of the substance. The District conducted a test of the water shortly after the incident was reported. No irregularities were found in the water, including the chlorine levels. The Mission RCMP Victim Services team has been engaged to reach out to those affected.
“At this point, we can’t confirm what the substance is. We are currently looking at all avenues including engaging our Integrated Forensic Identification Services to identify the substance and it’s origin,” said Corp. Nathan Berze.
The Mission RCMP are requesting that if anyone has any information about this incident, to contact them at 604-826-7161 or report anonymously through Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online at SOLVECRIME.CA.