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

Revelstoke library receives funding for technology upgrades

Columbia Basin Trust money will be used for virtual reality headsets and robotics equipment

Last weekend in Revelstoke: Best live music all ski season

Andy Siegel Special to the Review Last weekend was one of the… Continue reading

Grizzlies could win Conference Final tonight

Revelstoke Grizzlies are playing game six tonight against Kelowna Chiefs

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: A mix of sun and cloud, potential showers

Environment Canada predicts showers today will go away to allow for sun later in the week.

VIDEO: RCMP reveal five kids hit in deadly B.C. crash

Police are investigating the crash in Coquitlam on Monday afternoon

Hergott: How judges arrive at the truth

Latest column from lawyer Paul Hergott

British Columbians are paying more for booze but also broccoli

Victoria’s inflation was 2.3 per cent, a tick above Vancouver’s of 2.2 per cent

Portrait artist receives prestigious designation from Federation of Canadian Artists

Justin Maas, renowned for his pastel portraits, is now a senior signature member of the federation

Budget 2019 includes training credit for Canadian workers

Minister of Public Service outlined the new program at Penticton’s Sprott Shaw College

UPDATED: Three dead in Surrey crash: police

Single-vehicle crash occurred around 10:30 a.m., police remain on-scene

Display to shine a light on overdose deaths in Interior Health region

Display will travel to Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops

Eviction halted for B.C. woman deemed ‘too young’ for seniors’ home

Zoe Nagler, 46, had been given notice after living in the seniors complex in Comox for six years

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Most Read