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

Driver held at gunpoint, car-jacked on East Side Road

Penticton RCMP are asking for the public to keep an eye out for the suspect, stolen vehicle

Penticton care aide training centre a first for the Interior

SafeCare BC Satellite Training Centre is now open in Penticton to help continuing care aides

Don’t miss the South Okanagan Similkameen Crime Stoppers fundraiser

The second annual fundraiser takes place Saturday for the South Okanagan Similkameen Crime Stoppers

Crime, substance abuse, public safety and housing listed as Penticton priorities

Penticton City Council to bring up priority issues at UBCM

21 years: Grand Chief Stewart Philip to continue leading B.C. Indian Chiefs union

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip acclaimed as president of Union of BC Indian Chiefs

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Really disturbing:’ Trudeau’s racist photos worry B.C. First Nation chief

Wet’suwet’en Chief concerned the photos will sow fear in Indigenous communities

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

‘He’s trying to kill me’: Victoria police commandeer boats to reach screaming woman

No charges laid and civilians to be awarded honours after incident on Gorge Waterway

Provincial Mobile Medical Unit makes an appearance in Kelowna

The high tech hospital on wheels provides medical care for rural communities and during emergencies

VIDEO: Tempers flare during Sagmoen’s police interview

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

John Horgan promises action after fatal mid-Island bus crash

Premier cites students, local Indigneous community as reason to repair the road

On this day 126 years ago New Zealand women granted right to vote

New Zealand women beat Canadians to the polls by 26 years

Most Read