Summer is a carefree time in the Okanagan, as swarms of tourists flock to the area to join locals in enjoying the wealth of opportunities for fun in the sun.
But, as is all too often the case, that fun can turn tragic in the blink of any eye. That tragedy struck Sunday afternoon, when a 12-year-old Kamloops girl drowned in Skaha Lake.
According to witnesses, the girl was playing with family members in waist-deep water near the yellow warning buoys not far from where the channel spills into Skaha Lake. The girl was sitting on the shoulders of a family member when their footing slipped at the drop-off and the girl disappeared under the water.
The area is only a few hundred metres from where an Alberta man drowned last summer after he attempted to swim out to his daughter who had floated to far from shore on a raft.
The incidents serve as a tragic reminder of the sharp drop-offs and deadly currents that can be found in area lakes. But it’s not just the local lakes that can pose a danger to inexperienced swimmers. Rescue crews were called to the Okanagan River Channel Friday after a woman fell off her raft and was unable to swim.
Sunday’s drowning strikes a nerve because it occurred during an activity that is a familiar sight in the Okanagan. In the back of our head, we all realize that it could have been our child, friend or neighbour who was tragically taken away from us.
And it’s because of this that we must all use this latest tragedy as the motivation to take the necessary precautions around the water. The time and effort required will go a long way to ensuring the Okanagan remains filled with happy summer memories.