A trip to a beautiful little deadly beach
Hey, it's Jordan. If you like the big story, you should check out the new season of comments a documentary podcast from Canada. Plant. Host Arshi man takes you right into the country's dark underbelly uncovering stories of crime corruption in all manner of misdeeds. This season on Commons they'll bring you stories about the police they're examining the power that cops wheeled and investigating the links they're willing to go to to hold onto it. You can subscribe to Commons right now on your favorite podcast, APP. I, swear I'm not about to pitch you a bad teen thriller. But what if I told you there was a secret beach unique away so Far off the beaten path. It's not on any of the tourism brochures. They don't talk about it to outsiders you need to know how to find it to get there. But once you do it stunning a sandbar stretching far out into the water that makes it feel like you're walking on top of the lake. Crystal clear blue stunning views. Perfect for instagram whatever. And every so often. Someone dies. Again, this is not a movie pitch. This is the story of a tiny little spot near Nelson BC that's claimed several lives and very nearly claimed many many more. And nobody at any level of government wants to take responsibility for this secret beach. Not even to post signs. Or a lifeguard. Meanwhile. Accidents keep happening including a death. July that made clear to locals that as word spreads and they're gorgeous secret beach becomes crowded something needs to change. But Willett. Jordan Rawlings. This is the big story. Tyler. Harper is a reporter for the Nelson Star, who's been to this beach and covered it's deadly history. Hello Tyler. Why. Don't you start? For those of us who don't have a map in front of us, and just where exactly is six mile beach like geographically. Yeah. So six beaches a fifteen minute drive west pardon me east of Nelson here in the Kunis in British Columbia and it's a you won't find on any tourism guides, local tourism guys. They very specifically don't tell people about it as a visitor center here in town, but it is an incredibly popular spot in this region. Can you describe it? Give me a sense of you know how you get there and? What you do or what you see I guess when you get out of your car and walk towards it yeah. So you have to know where it is. That's that's the first thing is. This is all this has long been considered a a secret spot that only locals really know about in the last you know few years especially, the secret of God out. So we have to do is drive down this little dente highway, and then take an exit off onto the small road, and there's no sign to show you where the beaches you have to know. It's you stop off at a little spot on the road and there's a forested pass to the beach and it's to note that. The beach is beautiful like this isn't just another beach. This is a Nice beach. The sand is perfect. It's got beautiful views, Kuni Lake and the thing that makes it a real draw for people is very unique sand spit that extends out into the middle of Cudi Lake and you can walk out onto that sand spit in feels very much like you're on the surface of the lake in the middle of the lake it's not something you get anywhere else in the Kunis earliest in the West Kuni. And it's you know it's a common sight in the summer to see people out on that sand spit. Just, walking around and taking dives into the water. How did you hear about it? Why cert-, going there I I moved here five years ago and after hearing about it from people who live here, know about it my family went out there and. You know a lot I've been there a lot over the last several years with family I'd take friends visiting out there and you anytime family would come out. We always go out there. There are a lot of beaches out here there's a in Nelson there's a lakeside beach was, which is the municipal beach. Very popular but it's not. It's not nearly as nice along the beaches at here. Quite rocky six-mile is perfectly silted. There's no rocks anywhere. It's. It's beautiful if you know about it and look a lot of people do now. It's definitely the ideal beach to go to. Okay. Now tell me the deadly secret part. Well. So he also this is the other side of the wishes, the beaches incredibly dangerous so in. Nineteen fifty nine three children drowned at that sand spit, and since then there have been two more deaths the latest happening in July heater a twenty, three year old man and his partner went onto that sand spit and the woman was saved but the demand round And since that happened, a local residents have been calling for change at the beach and since our story went out a week ago what we've heard overwhelmingly is that people did not danger of that beach that they've been going out there for years with our own families and didn't realize that it's a the drowning Possibility is huge when you go onto that sand. Can you explain? What's so unique about it in like how these accidents happen? It's kind of combination of things. One is that. It's very steep. So if you consider the beach as. A point that goes out into the middle of the lake. Now, there's the one side, which is the eastern side, which is quite Wonderful, you can walk out there. It's. you know again, perfect sand is very, very gradual. Totally. However once you go into the spit and on the western side, there is a significant drop off in depth. This is combined with two other factors. One is that again, the sand there's no rocks. So it's very, it's very much it's it's very unsteady the feet when you're walking and the other side of this too is that at this point where the speech is located, Kuni Lake really becomes a river. There are several dams on on Cudi River and there's a current that goes around that. Around that each and is quite strong and the other side of this too is that cooney like is very cold. So if you get out there as one one of the people who involved incident told me once you get out there you're you're very cold and One woman who saved the child's lives about twenty years ago over just over twenty years ago, she was actually diagnosed with hypothermia. In doctors told her she wouldn't have lasted very long in the lake because and this is in the middle of the summer. How is it that? There's a lake that you know all the locals know about in and you know you've been going there for a while and then you publish an article in the local paper and people say I had no idea that it was dangerous. Well I think this comes to the lack of management the beach. So the beaches located on crown land. I spoke to the forestry ministry about it and they said, you know fraud purposes is like any other water access point NBC. And probably across candidates, which is to say use your risk. So the regional district government out here has no jurisdiction over management. Is Too far away from the city. So the city has no jurisdiction there, and there that means nobody to warn people that the danger of the speech. Now, one of the issues that came up with speeches at I, lack of sign at the beach to warn people about the spit before the death happened in July there was one sign it was covered with graffiti. So you had to kind of squint to see that there was a sign warning of an undertow, but it wasn't very specific and the other side of this too is that the death in July witnesses told me that the the man and his Kayak? To the beach so they wouldn't have seen any signs anyway they wouldn't have known about the danger. So having a lack of a sort of any safety measures put in place by the government of an east of any level is kind of the reason why nobody nobody knows how dangerous is beaches? Can you describe what happened to the couple in? July, just kind of walk us through it. Yeah. So it's Details are so little on this part of the reason for this was reporting families were not ready to to speak about it the trauma frankly a little too fresh but I did speak with a number of people who were there on the scene of the time you know one woman I spoke to. Who's quite a good swimmer she ran out there in the beach packed the time when this happened as is typical of that of that. Summer Day. And people started running people. See this guy go under and as perner grinder and they're struggling in the water in they're both screaming for help the beach starts rushing to help this man. The first woman to get up to go out there she saves the woman she grabs the woman is able to haul are in, but the mangoes under and people can't find him and it took too long to find him and in the end his body he obviously drowned, but his body at actually took search crews another day to find the bunny. And that's just because the current and the sand can just it when one person in the spy story refers to it is like quicksand like it's obviously not quicksand but the there's a feeling of just being sucked down into the lake at that beach. Have you ever gone to the the more. Dangerous areas of that Sandbar. Time plenty and with my son to and again, not knowing how dangerous it was and. It's really really distinct I. You go out there and you feel like you're on the surface of the lake and it's something that is obviously tempting for people to go out and try and do. And it takes no effort to is a simple walk into the water. You know it's very deceiving because. The water on the sand spit it only gets his high on an adult. Maybe your knees you know there are certain. There's a certain point there were. It actually rises back up. So at the tip of the SAM point, you're probably the water is probably just a bug wrinkles and then like right next to you is where it drops off completely into a fast moving current that's also freezing cold es freezing cold a current it's also and this is actually another point that it's important to raise. It doesn't look like there's a current it's it's. It's very much looks like still lake while the Times you know it's a big it's a huge lake. In. A Windy Day is rocky as any other late but on A. Summer Day they're still a current there that you can't see that will drag you out. The big story we'll be right back but I if you like this show I think you should check out the new Season of Commons a documentary podcast from Canada land. Rather, than me explain it, we asked them to pass a clip and we'll play it now for you to give you an idea of what you'll hear this season when you tune in. Inter new Season of Commons will bring you stories about the police from the RCMP's early days as a paramilitary force thing murdered able to the so called starlight tours in Saskatchewan. In jail me guys are GonNa kill me. Commons. The police will delve into the power that police wheeled in this country. In uncovered the lengths they're willing to go to hold onto it. So. I know that it's on on crown land as you mentioned. And that's why there's no jurisdiction. But what is being done to make it safer? It does kind of seem unreal that even though it's technically not anybody locals responsibility that you know there's not a a campaign to save lives at some level of government here. Well so there's not and that's you know that gets back to the fact that it's not considered anybody's responsibility. So you can kind of understand why you know if if you're the provincial government and you're asked to start managing. Water access points. Well, that's you know how many water access points are there in DC thousands, and you can't possibly know which of those are popular us or not especially even when in a situation like six-mile locals don't really realize how popular that beaches and it's not advertised in local tourism. So from you can kind of understand why nobody has been willing to take responsibility for and that's part of the part of the problem. There is this nobody knew how dangerous the speech was except for the people who live there? So the people who live there I spoke to many of them for my in my reporting and. A lot of them grew up around that beach and they knew how dangerous it was. In one, thousand, nine, hundred, nine when those three kids around. After that happened local parents made sure their kids knew how to swim. They're not to go alone and not to go on the certain sides of the beach that were most treacherous. that. Has Been Sort of a mindset of the local community, and this is one of these communities to where. People. Don't move away. You know you might Toronto Island, for example, might be a good a good. Comparison here where people get these beautiful homes, they're in a beautiful spot and they never leave. So a lot of the people I spoke to for the story been living there for decades I spoke to one woman who has been living there since nineteen sixty four and clearly remembered these kids drowning. And? You know growing up everybody out there knew about the kids drowning. They knew what not to do but the areas also changed a lot and you know we've had we've seen a population increase in Nelson, more people are coming out here and especially for tourism. And therefore, more people are finding out about the beach and so to answer your question. Local local residents especially after this latest death. Are really pushing for something to happen the general ideas sign edge. Now, we have a local politician out here as name is Tom, newell was the Regional District of central Kuni and he's really had to take on a lot of this themselves just to try to get some signs out there. Now, I was told that last Wednesday coincidentally on the day my story came out there was a meeting between local residents, regional government and provincial government officials don't know too much more about it at this point, but I happened tool this sign it will be in place for next year. Now, of course, the other side of that is what if people don't care you know I think a lot of US may may be fair to say if we see a sign that says something as dangerous. We might do it anyway and in such a situation where you look at the beach and it's perfectly calm looking and it's gorgeous and you think to yourself gonNA walk out there and take a selfie and it's GonNa look like I'm in the middle of Lake standing up what are the residents themselves do and in particular I guess the the community really close to the beach that you mentioned they Do they put up homemade signs? Do they You know try to tell people they see on the beach like? It. Seems that people are flocking to this place and have no idea. In days after the death, people put up their own homemade signs warning visitors about the danger, some of those signs of Vincent's torn down. This beach suffers from the same problem that most beaches suffer from. If if you're a resident living nearby, which is to say you know there's garbage is people partying there There's people who are there late at night, there's noise complaints. So there's always something going on with the speech that said, there's nobody to manage the beach even local residents don't really know what to do about it. Now, there's other issues around the beaches well such as a a real traffic issue on this road. But they don't really know what to do and they've been asking local government to do something but even local government is very leery about white can and can't do. So think you know what the solution is here. I'm not really sure I expected to be some sort of partnership between the regional and the provincial governments. We have a couple of models out here that. There are regional government for example, manages a beach out here. That's on crown land. So that might that might be a thing but whether or not that actually prevents people from going out on the sand spit it's really hard to say. So. Is this the reason there's no lifeguard for example, is common at you know most public beaches is the Salaya. Ability issue because whichever level of government commits to responsibility for it is then also probably going to face some recriminations the next time. Something bad happens because otherwise it would seem like the model that you just mentioned would be fine. Yeah. That's exactly it. It's kind of funny actually every time I would check in with a local government officials in the reporting of the story. Usually it was ok well, we need to talk to our lawyers I, and the this gets back to what I said before about water access points across the province is that you're taking responsibility for a spot. What that means is you're opening yourself up to liability something goes wrong. So it makes a Lotta sense for. The provincial government to keep its hands off these spots especially, a spotlight six-mile but people are people have died there and people more people will die. It doesn't seem like much only five people have died in the last sixty years there have been countless incidences of near deaths at that beach and it's only growing in popularity and this is a you know if you think about think about every beach, you considered your own think about every. Side spot on a highway where you thought I'm just going to get my toes in the water here. How often is Lifeguard there how often is there like some personal flotation device just nearby just in case and would you even use them? It's really hard to manage that many spots across the country really, and even when there's one spot here, which is undeniably different from the rest it's really important to put that into context. This is not just a little rocky beach off the side of the highway. This is legit beach. Even then you can kind of understand why the government would be reluctant to take any stewardship of this beach. Oh, I can understand it I. mean for sure I think one of the things that that fascinates me about this story is first of all the story of the beach, but also the idea that. These are different levels of government doing that they have to protect people because it's not their responsibility which totally they're within their. Legal rights to do so but it's a fascinating thing to watch happen when someone could get hurt here again. Yeah and it's also I mean. We're we're kind of talking your rounded of, but really isn't this the role of government is to take care of citizen safety especially in a place where you know this will happen again. So you know you can talk about. Management you can talk about you know possible litigation or taxation was another issue that came up in this in my reporting who will pay for this well, really it should be all of our responsibility to pay for it. Especially when you know we're all walking out there and we're all playing with that lake in a way that is actually quite dangerous. Tyler. Thank you for walking us through this story like I said it's It's fascinating and I hope hope something's different by next swimming season I. Think it will I've been told that they are going to have signs of there before next season but again. If they might need to do more. We'll see with them. Thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for having me. This is great. Tyler Harper. The Nelson. Star. That was the big story. If you'd like more the big story PODCASTS DOT CA is where you're headed or you can find us in any podcast player you prefer. If you've got feedback. We'd love to hear it at the big story podcast. All one word all lower case at our CI. Dot. Rogers dot com, of course, we're always on twitter. You can talk to US anytime at the big story F. P. N. and finally the big story is produced by a team including Clare Brassard Ryan Clark analyst Nielsen and Stephanie Phillips. WHO has a new podcast on this very network that's called paradigm. If you like the big story, you need to check out this one because it is a collection of stories from across the country told by a diverse set of producers. Each episode is in a different voice as a different tone, and we'll take you to a world that you've either never imagined. Or totally misunderstood it's going to be amazing. So go check it out wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening I'm Jordan Heath Rawlings we'll talk on Monday.