Father of girl killed at ice caves presses for safety changes

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by KYLE MOORE/KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on August 13, 2010 at 6:34 PM

Poll:
What do you think should be done at the Big Four Ice Caves?

LAKE STEVENS, Wash. - “I feel half my life is gone up there,” says John Tam.

Last week, John buried his 11-year-old daughter Grace after an accident near the Big Four Ice Caves in Snohomish County.

“What happened to us is the worst thing,” said Grace’s mother, Tamami. She says this was the first trip the family took to the ice caves. “We just packed a lunch and a bandage.”

On July 31, the Tams were about 15 feet outside of the cave’s entrance when a large chunk of ice fell on Grace. Strangers jumped in to perform CPR while others ran down the mile-long trail and drove another seven miles to reach a cell signal.

Without any phone or cell service, the Tams say it took two hours and 20 minutes for rescuers to arrive.

John wants safety changes to be made at the caves.

"They need a ranger station. They need cell phone service. They need a satellite phone. They need people to respond immediately," said John.

John sent an e-mail asking for changes to the U.S. Forest Service, Governor Chris Gregoire, and U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray.

”There has been zero reply,” says a frustrated John. "What happens if one of the lawmakers' child dies. Then are they going to do anything?”

“I do plan a response,” says U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Peter Forbes. He says he plans to send a personal letter to Tam, calling it more appropriate. “The insights the public and Mr. Tam have brought as to the communication issue, we will address."

Next week, a safety committee will travel to the Big Four Ice Caves. This group will decide if any changes need to be made.

“There is a range of options, from closing the entire area down to not doing anything," says Forbes. He says large yellow warning signs are posted on the trail and they are designed to keep people from going near the ice caves.

The Tams are not giving up their fight. They plan to continue to press for safety changes.

“We want to save a life in the future,” says Tamami.

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