South Surrey gym vows ‘immediate’ changes

Steve Nash Sports Club officials fired one staff member and are reviewing protocols after a toddler wandered away unnoticed Monday evening.

Operators of a South Surrey gym have fired one staff member and are reviewing security protocols after a toddler escaped unnoticed from the facility’s child-minding area Monday evening.

“She slipped out with another little child (who was leaving with his family),” Colleen Kirk, spokesperson for Steve Nash Sports Club, confirmed Thursday.

“This happened, it shouldn’t happen, it should never happen again. We don’t know how she got out that door with nobody noticing.”

Kirk said the 21-month-old was discovered missing from the kid zone by her dad at about 7:45 p.m.

Matt Hendrick described the realization his daughter was missing as “the worst feeling in the world.”

“It was just devastating,” he told Peace Arch News Thursday.

After a panicked search, Hendrick found his daughter, Maddy, with a woman and her husband at a nearby Starbucks. The couple had intercepted the tot just before she reached the parking lot, he said.

“And thank God they did, because it didn’t seem that anyone knew she was gone.”

Hendrick said while gym officials “seem like they’re exploring their options” when it comes to implementing changes to prevent a recurrence, his family won’t be returning to the facility.

“I would never bring (Maddy) back there ever again, it’s just not worth the risk,” he said.

Online commenters were also critical, with one noting it is sheer luck that the story did not end tragically.

Kirk agreed, and said that in addition to reviewing protocols, the gym’s executive and engineering teams are considering structural changes to the childcare area and are “immediately” retraining all staff.

“The safety of children, it doesn’t matter how much work it takes, it has to be done.”

Hendrick said he and his wife went public only to raise awareness of the story, and “could care less” about financial compensation for what happened.

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