Fearing a threat from a possible drug user, a Penticton teenager made a decision that could have cost her life.
The afternoon of June 1, 13-year-old Brooklyn Sidorchuk was returning to the family home in Sun Leisure Mobile Home Park from Skaha Beach when she saw man in the bridge underpass she believed was “shooting up.”
“I saw him sitting in the tent over there and he was just sort of (weaving back and forth) and I honestly felt so uncomfortable, I didn’t want to go through there, I’ve never felt afraid like that before,” said Brooklyn, who was at the Okanagan River Channel bridge underpass again Tuesday morning with her mom Meghan looking at the drug-related syringe and sodium bicarbonate packages among the debris and bedding in the unlit passageway.
|Brooklyn Sidorchuk suffered bruises and scrapes to much of her body. (Submitted photo)
“I don’t think he saw me and it was a big tent and I didn’t know if there was anybody else inside.”
Added her mother: “She didn’t want to get pulled inside and potentially get raped was what it was.”
From there, Brooklyn left and went back along the beach and up to the highway where she squeezed through a gate and started crossing the highway.
A few minutes later Meghan got a call she will never forget.
“All we could hear was her crying and saying, ‘I’ve been hit by a car and it hurts so bad,’” recalled Meghan.
“We knew instantly where she was. At that point I ran, I ran out of my house to the parking lot and my husband was able to get in the car and drive to the scene of the accident.”
When her parents arrived they found emergency personnel and an off-duty nurse attending to her daughter lying on the side of the road.
“Brooklyn was just apologizing over and over again, ‘I’m sorry mom, I’m sorry mom. I thought I could make it. I didn’t see him,’” said Meghan.
“The fact that Brooklyn felt the need to apologize just sunk my heart because she knows she made a mistake, but at the same time she knows she felt unsafe going through the bridge.”
As it turned out, after she was transported by ambulance to Penticton Regional Hospital, it was determined that Brooklyn suffered only scrapes and bruises.
|Brooklyn Sidorchuk and her mom Meghan at the underpass where she says was a tent pitched and a man she believed was using illegal drugs. (Mark Brett – Western News)|
According to Meghan, the driver of the vehicle remained at the scene and her daughter has even extended an apology for putting him in such a “horrific situation.”
Neither mom or daughter believe crossing such a dangerous, four-lane stretch of road was a smart thing to do, but for Meghan the problem goes much deeper than simply bad judgment.
“The main reason we decided to go public with this is not to raise awareness on homelessness or the drug problem, because the public already knows that but that the drug use is so out in the open and Penticton has become a trash can of needles and junkies, and all the theft and crime,” said Meghan.
“It’s gotten worse and worse and I think the fact that Brooklyn chose to cross the highway instead of have a possible interaction with somebody who was taking drugs and had set up the tent because she felt she was in danger.
“The problem with the druggies has gone on for so long that it’s now happening in places that are supposed to be safe places for the kids.
“The passage way under the bridge was supposed to be her safe way home and she couldn’t take that route because she didn’t feel safe.”
|Brooklyn Sidorchuk is attended to by paramedics at the accident scene. (Submitted photo)
Meghan feels that as the opioid problem continues to spiral there is increasing pressure not only on adults, business and home owners but the city’s youth, including her daughter, are becoming “unintentional victims.”
To that end, Meghan and her mother have written to Penticton’s mayor and council about the problem and received feedback from many councillors and Mayor John Vassilaki, who has offered to sit down with the Sidorchuk family to talk about their concerns.
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