Romanian tourist identified after drowning in Skaha Lake

The man was visiting Penticton from Romania and was knocked off his paddle board by the wind, according to the BC Coroner's Service.

The BC Coroners Service has confirmed the identity of a man who died in Skaha Lake Penticton on July 3.

Flaviu Attila Struczul, aged 33, of Satu Mare, Romania  was found unresponsive several metres underwater by Penticton Fire Rescue crews who responded to the 911 call about 2 p.m.

Struczul was visiting from Romania with a friend. They and friends from the Lower Mainland were camping at Skaha Lake for the long weekend. About 1:45 p.m. on July 3, 2016, Mr. Struczul, who was paddle-boarding on the lake, was witnessed falling from the board after being hit by a gust of wind. He was seen to be in trouble in the water shortly afterwards, and emergency services were summoned.

Struczul was found in about two metres of water about 20 minutes later, and was rushed to Penticton Regional Hospital, but Struczul could be not resuscitated.

The BC Coroners Service and RCMP continue to investigate this death.

Need for safety on Penticton Lakes 

This is believed to be the second water-related death locally this season. In May, the body of a 51-year-old woman was recovered in the shallow waters of Okanagan Lake near the SS Sicamous.

She was declared deceased at the scene. However, a cause of death was not reported.

Rescue crews have already attended a number of calls this year of people in distress which included a report of a swimmer in trouble late last week in the same area of Sunday’s accident.

A lengthy search of several areas of the beach around the Okanagan River Chanel failed to turn up anyone.

Another incident on the May holiday weekend resulted in the rescue of a group of people who had tied floaties together and got caught up on a bridge piling at Green Mountain Road. There were no injuries.

“We know that people are out there enjoying the water but you also need to be aware of your surroundings, it’s important to be wearing a PFD because like what took place on the weekend, it can just happen so quickly, it’s a sad situation,” said Watkinson.

Sunday’s death came at the same time Penticton Fire Rescue is preparing to launch a much stronger emergency presence on Skaha Lake.

It’s hoped by the end of this month two, $20,000 personal watercraft rescue units will be put into service and moored at the Skaha Marina.

This will mean the response time to 911 calls will be shortened considerably and unlike in Sunday’s incident where the fire department’s inflatable rescue boat first had to be transported to the scene from the nearby hall, they will already be on site.

“These are like jet skis and will have a lot of speed so we’ll have quicker access and will have rescue boards on which we can do CPR,” said Watkinson. “It will certainly bring the rescue potential for Skaha up dramatically. It will be a whole different sense of security on that lake.”

There will be the added bonus of being able to use the watercraft for calls on the Okanagan River Channel, of which there are plenty in the summer.

Because Skaha Lake is smaller and the emergency calls are more likely for incidents involving swimmers or tubers Watkinson believes the personal watercraft are best suited for work there.

To improve rescue capability on Okanagan Lake the department is currently looking at having a specially designed boat in place by next year which would be moored at the Penticton Yacht Club.

“We’re looking at a jet boat which would have a big, four-foot swim grid on the back and no propellor,” said Watkinson. “Trying to pull a body over the hull of the boat is really hard, especially when there are only two or three guys on the boat.”

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit praised the chief’s “ingenuity” in reallocating his department budget to acquire the much-needed rescue craft.

“In times of emergency, minutes are vital and however you can save time to get to the scene is going to make a difference,” said Jakubeit. “The sooner emergency personnel can respond, the better the chances of positive outcomes.

He added that due to liability issues the city does not have lifeguards in place at either Okanagan or Skaha lakes and there are no talks about adding that service in the future. Lifeguards have not been used on public beaches here in recent memory.

According to statistics for the past five years, July and August are generally the busiest for marine rescue calls. In 2015 there were 17, 15 in 2014, 13 in 2013, 17 in 2012 and six in 2011

-With files from Mark Brett, Western News


Just Posted

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 Penticton-area men charged with Kamloops brothers’ double homicide

Brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May in Naramata

JAK's Liquor Store in Penticton will be donating 10 per cent of its sales on Saturday, June 19, to the Penticton Salvation Army Food Bank. (Photo from
Stock up your liquor cabinet and support the Penticton food bank

Jak’s beer and wine store is donating a portion of sales to local food banks Saturday

The illegal open fire above Naramata continues to smoke on Friday, June 18. The fire was left to burn itself out by BC Wildfire. (Monique Tamminga - Western News)
Illegal open burn in Naramata will be left to smoke

BC Wildfire could not confirm whether the property owner had been fined

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road closed due to motorcycle crash near Vernon

Emergency crews called to incident near Evely campground

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
Donors who gave $1M to Central Okanagan grads want to send positive message

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Most Read