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Man jumps into septic tank to save toddler at Saskatchewan visitor centre

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If your home or cottage has a septic tank, consider this your warning to keep it—and its lid—well-maintained and secure.

Last Thursday, a Calgary family’s 21-month-old fell into the septic tank at a tourist information centre in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan.

It started as an average summer’s day: Trevor Pickersgill, Denaie McCarthy, and their three daughters were travelling to Regina, when they stopped at an information centre for lunch. Pickersgill and McCarthy ate at the picnic tables outside while their girls played atop the septic bed about five metres away.

It wasn’t long before their youngest daughter, Nataya, broke through the septic tank’s plastic cover. She fell 10 feet into the septic water, and her mother screamed.

“My husband came running, didn’t think for a second. [He] jumped in,” McCarthy told CBC News.

The young girl was getting pulled into a tunnel that led to a different part of the tank when her dad, who was now also submerged in sewage, managed to grab her leg. Luckily, bystanders found a rope and pulled the pair out.

According to reports, the toddler sustained a five-centimetre gash to her head and was showing concussion-like symptoms. She was taken to a hospital in Maple Creek before visiting the Children’s Hospital in Calgary. Her parents also plan to take her to their family doctor to get blood work done and hopefully rule out other health concerns.

Deputy Minister Richard Murray told CBC News that the Ministry of Central Services has not determined whether the lid was damaged, rusted, fatigued, broken, tampered with, or simply not secured.

“We are conducting an investigation into how these children were able to gain access to the septic tank,” he said.

But despite the ministry’s efforts to remedy the situation, Pickersgill told reporters that it never should have happened in the first place.

“Could have been a lot heavier lid, not a thin little plastic lid,” he said. “It wasn’t on properly.”

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