A mix of late-night boating and alcohol is being investigated as possible reasons for the death of an 18-year-old man tubing on Osoyoos Lake.
RCMP were called to a marine incident on the south side of Osoyoos Lake near Haynes Point. Three 18-year-old men being pulled on a tube behind a 20-foot Bay Karavan Bowrider were struck by the bow of a 15-foot Stingray. An 18-year-old Mission man is dead as a result of the incident. No one else was injured in the crash.
Cpl. Annie Linteau said the owner and operator of the Stingray, a 27-year-old man from Alberta, has been released from custody as RCMP continue to investigate the dangerous operation of a vessel causing death. Charges may also be considered against the operator of the Karavan Bowrider, also an 18-year-old from Mission, as it appears that he was operating the boat without the required licence, without lights and without the required spotter. Linteau said alcohol is being investigated as a possible factor in the incident and the name of the deceased is not being released pending notification of next of kin.
“Over the past few weeks the RCMP have responded to a number of incidents on B.C.’s waterways where both boaters and people enjoying the water have been put at risk,” said Linteau. “Safety on and around the water is everybody’s responsibility.”
This isn’t the first incident of careless people on Osoyoos Lake this year. Just last Friday a man came close to drowning on the lake after his flotation device flipped well off shore of the public swimming area.
Transport Canada and the Oliver/Osoyoos RCMP were conducting checks of pleasure crafts on Osoyoos Lake when one of the boating safety officers noticed an overturned toy dinghy and an adult man floundering in the water.
“The male was in distress and was struggling to stay above water,” said Cpl. Mike Field of the Oliver/Osoyoos RCMP.
The Transport Canada Patrol vessel responded to the 43-year-old male from South Surrey and officers noted him signaling for help. Field said the man was out of breath and had just enough strength to grab onto one of the boat lines.
“Given the circumstances, it was felt the male would have drowned had the patrol vessel not been there to assist,” said Field.
A boating safety officer and RCMP officer lifted the man into the patrol boat and brought him and his dinghy back to shore. The man received no injuries and did not require medical attention.
Transport Canada officials are reminding the public that toy inflatable dinghies and other such devices are designed for use in shallow water in designated swimming areas.
“There have been several deaths this summer where people using these devices navigate out in the middle of lakes or drown in fast-flowing rivers without proper safety precautions,” said Field.
Chris Marrie, Transport Canada boating safety officer, said increased education, awareness and enforcement patrols by RCMP has been a focus on Osoyoos Lake.
“Last year it was noted that Osoyoos Lake had the lowest compliance rate of any interior lake visited by Transport Canada. This year, while compliance was not great, it was noticeably improved,” said Marrie.