Though it is too late for his own little girl, Paul Amann hopes a petition his family and friends have circulated regarding soccer net legislation and safety will help save the lives of children across Canada.
“We don’t want to see any other family go through what we have,” he told the Chronicle. “There’s a big gap in our life.”
Amann’s five-year-old daughter Jaedyn died July 4 when a collapsible soccer net came down and struck her in the back of the head in Watson Lake, Yukon. Since the incident, Amann said he learned his daughter is number 94 on a list of known incidences involving youth (aged newborn to 30) killed by soccer nets in North America since 1979. While there are several Canadians on the list, Jaedyn is the first in B.C.
“It makes me sick to my stomach to the point of throwing up because obviously our government hasn’t stepped forward and dealt with this,” Amann said. “To me, it’s like the government is failing our children. This is in their own backyard, and they’re not dealing with it.”
The list, which can be found online, was compiled by the Tran family after their six-year-old son Zachary was killed by a 186-pound soccer goal that fell on top of him in 2003. Eight years later, after the family’s tireless advocacy, the governor of Illinois signed legislation targeting the prevention of tipping movable soccer goals.
Amann said former Chronicle publisher Bobbi Jean Cloke and a lawyer from Vancouver have stepped forward to help work on the wording of the legislation. Their goal is to advocate on both provincial and federal doorsteps.
“If we don’t go across Canada, the numbers are still going to grow … the numbers should not pass 94,” he said. “We want to see that there are no more portable soccer nets, that they should all be anchored and make it law to have a guideline, maybe even have safety inspections before, after and during tournaments.”
At press time, there were 5,000 online signatures on the petition, which reads, “We propose that Jaedyn’s Law mandates that sporting nets across Canada be sufficiently anchored, banning collapsible nets on government (provincial and municipal) operated play fields and be routinely inspected and maintained.”
There is also a paper petition circulating around town, but it is unknown how many signatures were on it at press time.
Amann is hoping to have at least 10,000 signatures by the time the petition is submitted to provincial and federal governments. Amann said he and his wife, Tara Hicks, are currently seeking legal advice and plan to pursue legal action in regards to the incident.
“We see lots of neglect on the ministry’s part because of the condition of the nets and how old they were,” Amann said. “I think these nets were in use when I went to school there 30 years ago.”
The tragedy has triggered an outpouring of support from the communities of Watson Lake and Ladysmith, where Hicks grew up. The family also lives in Cedar for part of the year, while Hicks attends university.
A trust fund, garage sale, concert and beer and burger night have all been held to raise money for the family. Purple silicone bracelets with the words Jaedyn Forever are being sold to raise money for the B.C. Children’s Hospital. A water park in Watson Lake has already been renamed Jaedyn’s Park as well.
To sign the petition online, click here.