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‘Accidental drowning’ suspected in three-year-old’s death at Binbrook Conservation Area


‘Accidental drowning’ suspected in three-year-old’s death at Binbrook Conservation Area

Three-year-old Zahra Ousmane was with a large group of family and friends in a picnic area, near the beach at Binbrook Conservation Area when family noticed the little girl was missing.

No one saw the three-year-old wander away, but she somehow ended up in the water where Hamilton police believe she accidentally drowned Saturday.

Sept. 3 marked the start of the Labour Day long weekend. It was hot and busy day at the conservation area on the shore of Lake Niapenco reservoir. This included more than 30 friends and family in the Ousmane group, a mix of adults and children running around, in the picnic area, near the public washrooms, said Det. Sgt. Sara Beck, of the Hamilton police homicide unit.

When family noticed she was gone, they searched for about an hour and called police at 6:18 p.m.

Around 7:50 p.m. kayakers found the three-year-old’s body in the water about 25 metres off shore, near a grassy area closer to the front of the conservation area on Harrison Road.

“We believe this was an accidental drowning,” Beck said, standing outside police headquarters Sunday.

Hamilton Paramedic Service Supt. Dave Thompson said the child was without vital signs when she was removed from the water.

“Paramedics attempted life saving measures and the patient was transported to hospital without vital signs,” he said.

Zahra was pronounced dead in hospital.


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In Ontario all sudden deaths of children five and under must be investigated as major cases by police. In Hamilton the homicide unit always takes on these cases. Police said Zahra’s death does not appear suspicious.

However, there were no cameras in the area and no family or friends saw the little girl go into the water. So police are appealing for anyone who saw Zahra between 5 p.m. and 7:50 p.m. or anyone who took video at the conservation area to come forward.

“The family is completely devastated and we’re supporting them right now as best we can,” Beck said, calling the case “very, very tragic.”

The three-year-old had her black hair tied back in a bun and was wearing a white shirt and blue shorts.

Police were expected to remain at the conservation area for much of the weekend gathering evidence. On Sunday the forensics branch could be seen photographing the shoreline.

“Our thoughts are with the Ousmane family at this difficult time,” Beck said.

Police thanked members of the public who were at the conservation area Saturday and who helped in the search for the little girl.

FunSplash Sports Park, which operates inflatables in the water at the conservation area, sent a message to people who had booked tickets saying that “with heavy hearts” they decided to close early for the summer. Staff were involved in the search for the missing girl and need to take some time. Monday was supposed to be the last day. People who had tickets are being issued a refund.

Anyone with information or video is asked to call Det. Lisa Chambers at 905-546-3843.

Nicole O’Reilly is a crime and justice reporter at The Spectator.

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