Funeral for young victim of tragic boating accident
Hundreds gathered at a southeast Calgary church to say goodbye to a young girl who died in a tragic boating accident. The pews of the Seventh Day Adventist Church were filled as mourners celebrated the life of five-year old Janessa Lyn Toney.
On Saturday, the little girl and her family were boating on Lake Newell near Brooks when their boat hit a rock and began filling with water. RCMP received the distress call and sent out an Alberta Fish and Wildlife boat with three rescuers in it to search for the family. The rescuers found the family about two hours later, put them in the boat, and began to head for land. However, on the way back, large waves overcame the rescue boat, causing the boat to flip over.
When emergency responders on shore couldn't reach the rescuers, the Brooks Fire Department, along with the Medicine Hat STARS helicopter and the Calgary Police Service's HAWCS helicopter, were called in. Around 11:30 p.m., the STARS helicopter found the capsized Fish and Wildlife boat with the missing rescuers and four of the five family members on top of the overturned boat suffering from hypothermia. Rescuers began to search for Janessa. She was found just before 5 a.m. Sunday morning inside the wreckage of the overturned boat. She was taken to Foothills Hospital in Calgary where she was pronounced dead at 6 a.m. RCMP say all of the family members were wearing lifejackets.
Today, at her funeral, mourners wore pink armbands, which was Janessa's favourite colour. Pictures of Janessa portray a girl who loved to dance and spend time with her family. She's remembered as a girl who had a way of making her opinions known. After the service, each mourner was given one pink balloon. They were released into the sky to symbolize letting go of Janessa as she ascends to heaven.
Anyone wishing to make memorial donations in Janessa's name is asked to give to the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation or STARS.
RCMP says a review of the entire operation will be conducted.