City of Revelstoke loses appeal in diving case that left camper paralyzed

City loses diving appeal

The City of Revelstoke has lost its appeal of a court ruling finding it had a duty of care in a 2015 incident in which a man was paralyzed after he dove into Williamson Lake.

The BC Court of Appeal dismissed the city's appeal March 29 in Vancouver.

Aaron Gelowitz was seriously injured when he made a shallow dive into the lake and struck an obstacle believed to be a tree stump in the water.

Gelowitz had been camping at Williamson Lake Park and Campground with his family. The park is located on the west side of the lake on land owned by the city, but Gelowitz dove from the east side of the lake on land owned by a third party.

The trial judge found the city liable in negligence and Gelowitz contributorily negligent apportioning liability 35% to the city and 65% to Gelowitz.

The city appealed that decision, contending the trial judge erred in concluding that it owed a duty of care despite the accident occurring on land that it neither owned nor controlled.

The lake is only about 100 metres wide, and while the city does maintain the sandy beach area, dock and a floating raft in the middle of the lake, it does post 'swim at your own risk' and 'no diving' signs.

However, the city acknowledged lake users routinely swim across to rocky outcroppings known locally as Big Rock and Little Rock on the other side.

Gelowitz had never been to the park before and dove in from the far side, leaving him a quadriplegic.

The appeal court found the city had a duty to warn of the risks associated with the use of the park and wider lake area.

The three-judge panel concluded "that it is reasonably foreseeable that park users might dive into the lake from locations on the eastern shore after swimming across the lake" and that the plaintiff's injury was a "foreseeable consequence of the city's breach of the standard of care in failing have visible signs warning against" such activity.

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