Grace Peerless, 13, of Terrace, B.C., succumbed to complications arising from severe burns incurred at a fire pit in her family’s back yard. (Photo courtesy Peerless family)

Backyard fire-pit tragedy takes life of 13-year-old girl

B.C.’s Grace Peerless dies of complications from burns to upper body

A B.C. community is grieving the tragic death of a 13-year old girl who succumbed to complications from burns received at a backyard campfire.

Terrace’s Grace Peerless passed away at the B.C. Children’s Hospital at 1 a.m. May 26.

Grace’s mother, Lynn Peerless, said the family may never know how the flames reached her daughter, only that she was alone at the fire pit around 9 p.m., May 24, when her hair and clothes caught fire. Lynn believes a hot ember landed on her daughter’s clothing with hairspray acting as an accelerant.

“She’s from the north — she’s been around fire her whole life. She’s a scout. She wouldn’t just fall in,” Lynn said.

Lynn had heard her daughter’s screams then found her consumed in flames near the fire pit, she said. She yelled at Grace to stop, drop and roll while her 17-year-old son used a garden hose to douse the flames.

Grace was airlifted from Terrace’s Mills Memorial Hospital to B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver where she was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit. According to the family Grace suffered mostly second-degree burns to 30 per cent of her upper body. Doctors told the family Grace’s likelihood of survival was as high as 95 per cent but complications quickly escalated and Grace passed away within 36 hours of the accident.

“Everyone is stunned. I mean the doctors don’t even understand why,” said Lynn. “I was ready to help her through a very long recovery…at least she would be alive.”

The BC Coroners Service can only confirm a Terrace female in her early teens was airlifted to the B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver May 24 and pronounced deceased May 26. No other information is available until the coroner’s investigation is complete.

READ MORE: Sebastian Downing succumbs to viral infections

The Peerless family was told today, May 29, it could take longer than a year to receive the report that may explain the complications leading to Grace’s death, and perhaps how the flames ignited in her hair and clothing in the first place.

As condolences spread to the family through social media, Grace was remembered as a consummate storyteller, a happy teenager and an adventurous scout.

“It’s amazing how many people are coming forward, and I’m learning just how many people’s lives she touched,” Lynn said. “She was a true floater, someone who could drift through every crowd. It didn’t matter if your family was on welfare or you were the richest kid in school, she’d treat you the same.”

On Monday morning at the doors to Skeena Middle School, where Grace was a student, a makeshift memorial had sprung up as people dropped off flowers and notes.

School District 82 Superintendent of Schools, Katherine McIntosh, said resources were available to help everyone at the school move through the difficult time.

“Our staff and students share a heartfelt sadness around the loss of this young life,” she said in an email. “At times like this, as everyone else in our community, our hearts go out to the family and relatives.”

A celebration of life has been planned for Tuesday, June 5 at 4 p.m at Terrace’s the REM Lee Theater. A reception will follow.

The family says they’ve incurred close to $10,000 in expenses for travel and funeral arrangements, for which a crowdfund page has been set up at GoFundMe.com under Remembering Grace Peerless.


 


quinn@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Special avalanche warning issued for B.C.’s south coast

Weak layer of snow on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland could trigger an avalanche

Solving the puzzles at 4th Dimension Escape Rooms in Chilliwack

New downtown Chilliwack business features three different themed escape rooms

Sarah Wark beats Manitoba’s Tracy Fleury at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

An 8-5 win in a tie-breaker match sends Wark and Team B.C. into the eight team championship pool.

Another snowfall warning for Lower Mainland

Another 5-10 cm expected for Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Sunshine Coast

Saskia and Darrel kick off spring tour with Chilliwack concert

Stories of the Great Plains delivered in Gaelic, French and more

Wife remembers B.C. man killed in possible case of mistaken identity

Rex Gill was in Kamloops working to support his family after oilfield job dried up

New report calls for regulated heroin sales to curb B.C.’s overdose problem

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Millennial men least likely to have a family doctor: Statistics Canada

Report found more women have primary care physicians, compared with men

VIDEO: North Delta elementary school closed following stabbing that left cop, woman in serious condition

An off-duty police officer and a woman were injured outside of the school Wednesday afternoon

70% of Canadians agree with mandatory vaccines for children: poll

The debate for pro and anti vaccinations has heated up after a measles outbreak in Vancouver

VIDEO: Woman, off-duty cop in serious condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

Most Read