Emergency crews were called for reports of a drowning incident in West Kelowna. (Dave Ogilvie)

Lifesaving Society urges caution after two drownings in Central Okanagan

The warning comes after a drowning incident on July 9

In the last seven months alone, there have been 15 drownings across the province, with two incidents occurring in the Central Okanagan.

The most recent drowning was that of a 65-year-old man, who was swimming in Okanagan Lake on Thursday, July 9. West Kelowna emergency crews were called to the 2000 block of Boucherie Road at around 1:45 p.m.

Witnesses at the scene said the man tied up his boat at a float in the water. He was swimming back to shore when he disappeared and failed to resurface.

Lifesaving Society B.C. and Yukon executive director Dale Miller said water-related deaths can be prevented if there are lifeguards present, but just how much they can do is hard to say.

“It’s impossible to say what number of drownings would be prevented, especially since a number of drownings happen outside of lifeguard-supervised areas and lifeguard-supervised hours,” he said.

Last month at Mill Creek Regional Park, where no lifeguard is on duty, a Lower Mainland father drowned near the waterfall while trying to save his daughter, who survived.

“Unfortunately, Peachland is the only lifeguard-supervised waterfront on the expansive Okanagan Lake. We would love to see lifeguards on all waterfronts, but we know that’s not necessarily realistic but it would certainly be helpful,” said Miller.

The District of Peachland has had lifeguards at Swim Bay since the 1950s, and staff said the district invests just over $70,000 to provide nine weeks of lifeguard service.

The City of West Kelowna is encouraging residents to be more careful when they get in the water.

“We extend our heartfelt sympathies to friends and family of the victim (who drown in Okanagan Lake) during this most difficult time,” staff said.

“While the city does not know the circumstances surrounding this incident, we would encourage our community and visitors to use continuous personal safety measures when out enjoying Okanagan Lake.”

The city, as well as Lifesaving Society, have the same advice for swimmers, boaters, kayakers, and fishers: be careful when you get in the water.

“The city recommends that the public not be on the lake outside of daylight hours and always swim with a buddy or in a group,” the city said.

Miller said individuals should always wear lifejackets, especially if venturing out in deeper waters.

“Know the water you’re going into, the depth of it, if there are rocks or logs underneath the surface, and know your own limits and don’t stretch them.”

READ: Man drowns while swimming in Okanagan Lake

READ: Surrey realtor drowns in Okanagan trying to save daughter


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

Swimming

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

EDITORIAL: Managing wildfires

Wildfires have the potential to cause significant damage within our province

Opening night lineup for online Roots & Blues festival released

The first night of the festival on Aug. 14 will be stacked with favourites from previous years

Revelstoke’s forestry museum launches podcasts and new website

One of their summer students is working remotely

Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Aug. 6

Chautauqua, CPR strike and destructive fire

Morning Start: The human body contains trace amounts of gold

Your morning start for Friday, August 7, 2020

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Number of Kelowna-linked COVID-19 cases grows to 159

Interior Health reported four new cases region-wide on Friday, 18 remain active

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

Police watchdog deems Kelowna RCMP not responsible for man’s death

The man spoke to police after a car crash before leaving on foot; he was found dead six hours later

Most Read