Two drowning incidents on Okanagan Lake serve as safety reminder

B.C. drowning fatalities down compared to August 2018

The B.C. and Yukon branch of Lifesaving Society executive director Dale Miller said fatal drownings across the province are down compared to 2018, with just 18 compared to 47 this time last year. But back-to-back incidents on the Okanagan Lake last weekend may serve as a safety reminder while enjoying the waters this summer.

“I know people think ‘oh, it’s never going to happen to me’ but when it does it helps if you’ve taken a few moments just to think ahead,” he said.

A 15-year-old drowned in the Gellatly Bay area in West Kelowna last Saturday and a Kelowna man remains in hospital in serious condition after nearly drowning in City Park on Sunday.

The body of 41-year-old kayaker Colin Palmer was found in Penticton on July 20 after being reported missing for three days. On Aug. 10, the body of 71-year-old Kelowna man Zygmunt Janiewicz was found about 170-feet below the water near Gyro Beach about two months after he was reported missing.

A fatal boat accident claimed the lives of a 35-year-old Kamloops man and a 36-year-old Maple Ridge man on June 9 on Osoyoos Lake.

READ MORE: Kelowna man nearly drowns on Okanagan Lake

READ MORE: 15-year-old boy drowns after midnight jump into Okanagan Lake

Miller’s best advice: “know the water” you’ll be swimming in.

The BC Coroners Service’s 2016 data shows a steady decline with a total of 47 drowning deaths—in comparison to 91 in 2008. Twenty-four drowning deaths occurred on the Okanagan Lake in the eight-year span.

Between 2008-16, 10 drowned in the Kalamalka Lake near Vernon, five in Wood Lake near Lake Country and 12 in the Shuswap Lake.

The BC Coroner Service said fatal drownings are most common in the summer months and these statistics portrayed an average of 13.6 deaths per year in August.

Nineteen to 29 year olds accounted for the largest proportion of deaths at 23.7 per cent between 2008-16, followed by 50-59 year olds with 17 per cent. Alcohol and drug consumption contributed to 40.1 per cent of drowning deaths between 2008-15.

The BC Coroner Service said boating (21.8 per cent), swimming (16.8 per cent) and falls into the water (16.5 percent) were the three activities in which accidental drowning are most likely to occur.

READ MORE: ‘Know the water’: drowning experts warn swimmers, boaters as B.C.’s summer heats up

READ MORE: Peachland hero’s quick actions saves drowning kayaker

If you see someone in distress in the water, Miller says it’s best to toss a line or a life ring and if you do have to get into the water, Miller recommends taking some sort of flotation aid—even a pool noodle—to help stay afloat.

“Just something that victim can hang onto as you’re towing them in… making sure there’s not two victims,” he said.

Miller also warns of the false sense of security that pool toys may give beachgoers.

“There are many situations where people fall off the inflatable and get separated from it,” Miller said. “Then, being a non-swimmer or maybe panicking in the water is how they get in trouble.”

READ MORE: Retrieved body from Okanagan Lake identified as missing kayaker

READ MORE: Body found on Okanagan Lake confirmed to be missing Penticton kayaker

— with files from Katya Slepian

Just Posted

Empire Hydrogen bringing pollution-reducing fuel system on Okanagan tour

The company will be running information sessions starting on Nov. 20.

KIN KITS to provide cold weather supplies to local homeless

The 100 kits will be distributed by local organizations and outreach groups

The SS Sicamous celebrates the season with a light-up party Dec. 14

Carollers, Santa, a holiday model train, and more will be available by donation.

Hello Santa! Artwalk features 17 local galleries

From 4 p.m. until 9 on Nov. 21 the public is invited to the free event.

Township 7 Vineyards & Winery win Best Canadian Sparkling Wine at world championships

The 2016 Polaris also took Best in Class Canadian Blanc de Blanc.

VIDEO: Hong Kong police shoot protester, man set on fire

It was the second protester shot since the demonstrations began in early June

Empire Hydrogen bringing pollution-reducing fuel system on Okanagan tour

The company will be running information sessions starting on Nov. 20.

PHOTOS: Hundreds come out to Remembrance Day ceremony in Keremeos

Ceremony began at 10:45 a.m. at Keremeos Legion Branch

Sportsnet fires Don Cherry after negative comments about immigrants

Don Cherry had said immigrants don’t wear poppies like other Canadians do

Trudeau’s new cabinet: Gender parity because it’s 2019? Or due to competence?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will soon appoint his new cabinet

Canada among three G20 countries least likely to hit emissions targets

It says Canada, South Korea and Australia are the farthest off

Conservatives’ Scheer wants Trudeau to open Parliament Nov. 25

That’s five days after Justin Trudeau is scheduled to swear in a new cabinet

Coquihalla, Okanagan Connector drivers cautioned due to freezing rain

Special weather statement in effect for highways between Hope, Merritt, Kamloops and Kelowna

Summerland council considers change to meeting schedule

Proposal calls for afternoon session and 6 p.m. evening session for regular meetings

Most Read