Vandals strike drowning memorial at Chemainus Lake on anniversary

As the family of Brayden Gale mourns the one-year mark since he drowned, the memorial has been vandalized for a second time.

As the family of Brayden Gale mourns the one-year mark since he drowned in Chemainus Lake, the memorial installed there in August has been vandalized for a second time in a matter of months.

Gale, 22, drowned in the lake on Nov. 25, 2015 while boating with a friend.

A wood and stone memorial and life preserver were installed at the dock on Aug. 8 in his memory, and less than a week later, the memorial was painted over.

Then again, sometime between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2, vandals struck again, destroying a photo of Gale and stealing a carved wooden trout, along with other damage.

“It opens up the wound again,” Gale’s mother, Laura Robertson, said.

“We’re struggling enough, we really are, and this just tears you apart. It’s not funny, it’s not cool. You’re ripping people’s lives apart.”

The damage the second time was much more serious than the first time.

“Last time, they just kind of wrote on it, and we got rid of most of it,” Robertson said. “This time they gouged out his face.”

As of Tuesday, Robertson was hoping that stoneworkers would be able to repair the damage in time for a family gathering at the dock on Friday, marking a year since Gale died.

“His friends and my ex-husband [Gale’s father] are just livid,” Robertson said. “If they could get hold of the person who did it, I have no idea what they would do. I took it personally. I feel really sad. Maybe there’s something going on in their life.”

Police and Gale’s family are looking for information about the vandalism, and ask anyone with information to contact the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP at 250-748-5522 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. Information, including the word “Cowichan” can also be texted to CRIMES (274637), or submitted online at cowichancrimestoppers.com

Following the LifeRing preserver that was installed at Chemainus Lake in Gale’s memory, the District of North Cowichan has started to have them placed at other popular swimming and boating locations.

Four have been installed already, including the one at Chemainus Lake, with plans for four more.

To help the municipality achieve its goals, Gale’s family has set up a GoFundMe account with the aim of raising $4,800. Donations can be made at gofundme.com/braydengale

“It’s really overwhelming how many people drown every year, and it’s all preventable,” Robertson said. “We really want to bring awareness.”