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(Posted 5:30 a.m., Nov. 27)
Inquest into home day care drowning begins
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The circumstances surrounding the 2010 drowning death of Jérèmie Audette are the focus of a coroner's inquest which began on Monday. File photo


The inquest into the 2010 drowning death of two-year-old Jérèmie Audette began on Monday with testimony from the paramedics who tried to revive him and photos of the scene of his death.

Audette was in the care of his babysitter Cynthia MacLellan when he fell into an above ground pool and drowned on July 28. The pair were visiting an unlicensed home-based day care in South Fallingbrook on a playdate when the accident occurred.

There were about 20 other children in the backyard when the accident happened as well as several other caregivers.

Audette was last seen playing in a green plastic wading pool when his babysitter was distracted speaking with one of the other adults. In a span of two or three minutes, he walked about eight feet to a wooden stair case leading to the edge of the above ground pool, climbed the seven steps to the top and fell in.

He was discovered moments later and pulled from the pool. The day care operator, Wendy Lapierre, tried to performed CPR on the toddler until firefighters arrived and took over.

By the time paramedics arrived, Audette was showing no vital signs. He failed to regain consciousness despite receiving two shots of epinephrine in the ambulance and was pronounced dead upon his arrival at CHEO.

Police photos taken at the scene show a toy strewn backyard with the green kiddie pool in the foreground and the above ground pool in the background. Much of the testimony on Monday focused on the condition of the wooden gate at the bottom of the pool stairs.

In the photos the gate is propped open by a plastic slide. Early testimony failed to establish when the slide was placed where it was. However, a close up picture of the gate latch clearly showed that it was barely being held on by a single loose screw.

A five-member jury listened to the testimony intently. They have been charged with the task of determining the circumstances surrounding Audette's death and making recommendations to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future,

Jérèmie's father Alain Audette attended the proceedings. Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom he expressed his desire to keep other children safe.

“I’m actually very positive that this is going to prevent... other drownings,” Audette said. “We do have other children, and we want to make sure that we do the right steps to make sure that they’re safe.”

MacLellan and Lapierre have standing at the inquest and are being represented by separate lawyers. It is not sure whether either woman will testify during the proceedings which are expected to take 15 days to complete.

The Ottawa Police Service did issue any charges in the case, however, Lapierre was fined $2000 and given 12 months probation for running an unlicensed daycare under the Ontario Day Nurseries Act.

A police photo shows the South Fallinbrook backyard where two-year-old Jérèmie Audette drowned while attending a playdate on July 28, 2010.. Ottawa Police Service photo


(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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