Dear Lucy and Mouth,
me try to describe to you, a child of the midwest, the Capilano
Bridge, off of which that baby was thrown. ["Letter to a Baby
Who Was Thrown from a Bridge," Mouth, January, 2000]
is like Buenos Aires or San Francisco where the
land seems to suddenly vanish into the sea. There
is no gradual descent from low lying hills to
plains and beaches. Instead, the granite mountains
takes a steep, swift plunge into the cold water.
Its raw splendor literally takes away the
know how Kansas is. Most of the land is tended
carefully and husbanded to squeeze out the last
yield of crop. But it has not been that way for
long. Land left untended goes back to nature with a
surprising eagerness. The ancient land of Europe
has been under man's domain for so long that it
lingers when unattended as if waiting for the
landowner to return. Not so in North America. Here
the farmer is still at war with the natural
environment and nowhere moreso than in British
Vancouver sits on a sliver of land surrounded on
three sides by water. To reach North Vancouver one
must cross the imposing Lion's Gate Bridge. Across
the bridge, the mountains rise straight up out of
the water. To reach the neighborhoods of North
Vancouver, the road clings to the edge of the
approach the mountains, your only route is Capilano
Canyon, a deep and dangerous-looking place.
Millenia of melting snow have cut a crag only a few
hundred meters wide through the granite landscape.
The canyon is hundreds of feet deep with water
raging at the bottom in every season. The canyon's
sides are steep, overgrown with scrub oak,
blackberries, wildflowers and moss, pierced with
single-lane road runs along the top of the canyon,
carrying adventurers and tourists to the trams that
will carry them up the mountain slope. On the left
side of the road is a parking lot. If you walk 200
meters further, you come to the Capilano Bridge. At
no time of the year is it visible from the
bridge is rope with planks laid down for a walkway.
It is something of a challenge to cross it as it
sways in the wind and with your movements. In the
middle, the canyon floor is hundreds of feet below
the see-through walkway and stomachs have been
known to evacuate their contents at the dizzying
a baby off that bridge is perhaps the most
heartless act I can imagine. Lonely is only the
beginning of how the child would feel, abandoned
and assaulted by a parent.
attribute Baby Kayla's survival more to the obvious
incompetence of the mother's throwing arm than to
divine intervention. I don't think you can
appreciate the true nature of tossing that child
away until you have seen the site.
are places that seem haunted and dangerous just by
their smell and feel. Capilano Bridge is one of
them. I have always been frightened by it.
Does anyone know what became of the child? I know
she survived and nothing more.
[Editor's note: The child survived, is
said to be doing well, and has been returned to her
mother. On February 9, the Vancouver Crown Counsel
announced that no charges would be brought.
18-month-old Kayla Hama, who has Downs Syndrome,
fell or was thrown from her mother's arms on
September 9, 1999. A sign at the entrance to the
bridge prohibits holding a child in arms. The
mother, who was also holding her five-year-old
son's hand at the time, has said that Kayla's fall
was a horrible accident. We note, however, that
after the accident she called not rescuers but her
estranged husband. A surveillance video, shown at
left, captured the scene just a moment after