A thousand roses were spread on Okanagan Lake Tuesday as a send-off for a little girl who had a smile her parents say could light up a room.
“Emily Joy Chaplin was just that; a complete ‘joy’ to everyone,” said Terry Chaplin, father of the 10-year-old, killed Friday when the Yamaha Waverunner she was riding on collided with a 21-foot-powerboat off the shore of the El Dorado boat launch.
It was a turn of events that also left Emily’s 18-year-old brother Jarett seriously injured, with a broken kneecap and arm, a chipped shoulder along with numerous stitches and staples that will take time to heal. The grief and injury stemming from that day, however, took a back seat for a few hours, so Emily could be put to rest.
“It was a tragedy, and you need to find the one little bit of peace you can, and hold on to it and try and carry on. There’s nothing else you can do,” said Terry.
“Today we’re having a celebration of life. This is her happy place and we want to spend the last day here, being happy with her.”
Close to 100 others—including Emily’s dog— donned T-shirts emblazoned with a photo of the little girl and boarded a houseboat where the child’s ashes were to be scattered over the bed of roses, in a small step toward closure.
“It’s tough, it was an accident and I know nobody set out in the morning to kill my daughter,” he said.
Emily was in the front seat of a personal watercraft when a boat, being driven by an adult couple, turned suddenly. The watercrafts collided and Emily, who was wearing a life-jacket, along with her brother, were thrown into the water.
Emily was taken into the boat and driven to the El Dorado boat launch, where 911 was called. She died shortly after from her injuries.
The Yamaha the Chaplins were riding on sustained significant damage but the boat had only minor damage, and the boat’s occupants, a man and woman, were not injured.
Alcohol and speed are not believed to have been factors in the accident.