Skip to content

Family of Okanagan man who drowned saving dog donates to search and rescue

The family of Tom Dennehy made the donation which will go to the K9 team and first aid training
Tom Dennehy, seen in this photo with his two dogs, drowned in Osoyoos Lake after trying to rescue one of his dogs July 25. His family has made a donation to Osoyoos Search and Rescue in his name. (Contributed)

The family of a well-loved Oliver man who drowned trying to rescue his dog in Osoyoos Lake this summer has made a donation to Oliver-Osoyoos Search and Rescue in Tom Dennehy’s name.

“While we were working out the details on the donation, [Tom Dennehy’s] mom Ruth shared with us that he was an active person who enjoyed snow sports and other outdoor activities in South Okanagan,” said Osoyoos Search and Rescue on their Facebook page.

“The family donation will assist our members with specialized training, including our K9 team and advanced first aid training. Thank you to the Dennehy family who thought about our team while dealing with the loss of a loved one.”

Oliver-Osoyoos Search and Rescue were part of the teams that looked for Dennehy, when he went missing from his boat on Osoyoos Lake on July 25. The 41-year-old drowned trying to rescue one of his dogs.

Dennehy, who is from Oliver but originally from the U.K., was a much-loved pillar of the community and well known at Area 27. He had a passion for motorcycle racing and a love for his two dogs.

On July 25, at 8:30 p.m., RCMP responded to a 911 call about a man who had gone under the water in Osoyoos Lake near White Sands and failed to resurface. Dennehy and a friend were in his surf boat stationary in the lake while he played fetch with his dogs who were going out in the water and coming back in with the ball.

It appears one of his dogs became distressed and Dennehy swam out to help it, said Osoyoos RCMP Sgt. Bayda at the time.

Dennehy and his dog became separated from the boat due to the wind and the friend witnessed the dog climb on his back, weighing him down. The dog managed to make it back to the boat but Dennehy did not.

Friends of Dennehy along with Search and Rescue and Osoyoos Fire aided in the search.

READ MORE: Body of man who drowned saving dog in Osoyoos Lake found

RCMP boats and a helicopter were out B.C. Day weekend searching for him.

Members from the RCMP E Division and National Division underwater recovery team (URT) located and recovered Dennehy’s body at approximately 10:30 am, on Aug. 3.

“Tom was well known in the community and the Osoyoos RCMP would like to express our deepest condolences to Tom’s family and friends,” said Bayda at the time.

To report a typo, email:


Don’t miss a single story and get them delivered directly to your inbox. Sign up today for the Penticton Western News Newsletter.



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
Read more