- BC Games
Weekend drowning death toll in Okanagan Lake rises
Two drowning inidents this past weekend have left one man dead and while another who was taken to Kelowna General Hospital last Friday has died this afternoon.
Early Sunday evening, a 24-year-old Surrey man drowned after getting into trouble while swimming out to his boat from the Okanagan Lake shore near a private beach access at Watt Road in the Mission.
His girlfriend, also in her 20s, was in the boat and tried to help her boyfriend, who police said encountered difficulty staying afloat.
She jumped into the water to help him but to no avail. She also placed herself in danger as well.
A lakefront resident had reportedly seen the incident unfold from his home and rushed out to help the couple on his Sea-doo.
But by the time the woman was rescued, her boyfriend had disappeared below the water’s surface.
Police were called to the scene at 7 p.m. Sunday night, with search and rescue teams from Kelowna and Vernon, along with the Kelowna Fire Department dive team, to help find the body.
That effort came to a heartbreaking conclusion at about noon Monday when the Surrey swimmer was found near where he had disappeared in about 10 feet of water.
The young couple had rented the 20-foot Bayliner boat and were about 150 yards from shore when the incident occurred
Neither were wearing a life jacket. Police have not released the identities of the couple.
“It’s another unfortunate situation where we are reminded of the importance of taking safety precautions when in the water during the summer,” said Kelowna RCMP Corp. Bill Parmar.
Emergency personnel were comforting the drowning victim’s girlfriend on the beach as she waited for some sign of her boyfriend from the search and rescue effort.
Meanwhile, a 66-year-old man was taken to hospital Friday afternoon after falling into Okanagan Lake in front of the Kelowna Yacht Club.
Emergency crews on scene said the individual, identified by yacht club vice-commodore and moorage director Mike Terris as a member of the club, was found in the lake without a pulse at 12:30 p.m.
“At this point, EHS and advanced life-support has been working on the male (and) he’s being transported to KGH for medical evaluation,” said Parmar on Friday, noting the efforts had secured a pulse on the victim by the time the ambulance left for the hospital.
While media reports indicate the victim succumbed to his injuries, Kelowna RCMP have yet to confirm the fatality.
The body was found behind slip C40 by a dock hand who was cleaning out millweed in the area.
The dock hand made the call to 9-1-1 and the body was pulled from the lake by ambulance and police personnel.
Police are trying to determine what happened as there was no one else found near the victim, no one to say how long he was in the water.
“There’s some indications that it could have been as much as a half hour,” Parmar said.
RCMP investigators are talking to staff as well as people moored on the water, to get a timeline of the events and see if there are witnesses who can help determine what happened.
This summer has proven one of the more deadly summers in B.C. in terms of the number of people who have drowned. In addition to the death of a father who jumped into Wood Lake to save his two boys, the Okanagan has already seen another man die in a snorkelling incident in Peachland.
Finally, a man drowned in Mill Creek; the coroner has not determined the circumstances surrounding that death.
—With files by Wade Paterson and Don Sipos