Alberta toddler dies after falling into septic tank

Septic tank lids in ground Photo by Tim Frank Septic

In a tragic turn of events, a two-year old boy has died after falling into a septic tank near Calgary.

The boy lived on a rural property in the Hamlet of Priddis, Alberta, and was found to be missing in the early afternoon last Thursday. Paramedics were called and informed that it was believed that the child had fallen into the tank.

“On arrival, paramedics worked with other bystanders to lift him from the tank,” EMS spokesperson Stuart Brideaux told the CBC. The boy was airlifted by a STARS air ambulance to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The community of Priddis has rallied around the boy’s family, raising over $30,000 for them through an online campaign, and organizing a meal service. The family has asked that memorial tributes be made to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

“It’s certainly a tragedy,” Ed Osborne, president of the Priddis Community Association, told the Calgary Herald. “The community’s relatively small, so whatever they need, we’d be happy to help them out.”

The toddler, Aaden Blackburn, was remembered in an obituary as “a precious little boy full of life and adventure” who loved playing with toy trucks.

Osborne said he has a grandson who is approximately the same age.“They’re very full of curiosity, they’re energetic,” he said. “…[I]t’s pretty hard to keep an eye on them 24 hours a day.”

Kid catcher for septic tank
A product known as the “kid catcher” was designed to prevent septic tank accidents, but many people are unaware that they exist. [Photo by Polylok]
Septic tanks are commonly used waste-management systems for rural properties, and accidents are pretty rare, but not unheard of. In 2016, a toddler broke through the lid of a septic tank at a Saskatchewan tourist centre and fell in. Her father jumped in after her, and bystanders managed to pull the two out using ropes.

An online list of safety tips for septic tank use advises making sure septic tanks have sturdy lids that aren’t easy for children to remove, and marking off their locations. The lids can also decay or become damaged over time, so it’s important to check them regularly. The tanks can also emit gases that can cause dizziness and fainting, which can lead to a fall in.

Each year in North America, there are at least a few incidents of children falling into septic tanks. There is a product known as a “kid catcher” that covers the tube into the tank with a grate, which prevents people from falling in. 

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