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

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

Just Posted

Fire safety talk coming to Vernon

Fire Rescue Services to host one-hour presentation in Okanagan Landing, open to everyone

Vernon library to launch tech lab

$74K donation brings Vernon library closer to Inspiration Lab opening

Vernon’s Powerhouse Theatre makes a splash with Girl in the Goldfish Bowl

Performance packed full of surprises, director Cara Nunn says

Play sparks curiosity through movement in Vernon

Hands and Feet invites theatre newcomers to fall in love with production

Retirees gets groovin’ for good health in Armstrong

The magic of music filled the air at Heaton Place

Protesters barricade Premier John Horgan’s home ahead of B.C. budget unveiling

Demonstrators from the Extinction Rebellion have blocked the Langford driveway

B.C. budtenders become first private cannabis workers to unionize in Canada

Two of seven Clarity Cannabis storefronts vote to join UFCW 1518 union

Kids exposed to household cleaners as newborns more likely to get asthma: B.C. study

Air fresheners, plug-in deodorizers, antimicrobial hand sanitizers and oven cleaners were the worst culprits

Alleged drunk driver has licence suspended following Kelowna bridge crash

The 31-year-old Calgary man, was issued a 90-day immediate roadside prohibition

Kelowna RCMP seize illicit drugs from Lower Mission home

Four individuals were taken into police custody but were released pending further investigation

Victoria, Abbotsford record biggest jumps in rent prices nationwide: report

Toronto and Vancouver had priciest rentals in Canada

VIDEO: Convoy of forest industry supporters on its way to Victoria

Rally at the B.C. legislature begins with participants setting off from Campbell River

Teen snowmobiler found safe after overnight search in Okanagan

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Summerland basketball team advances to Provincials

Summerland senior girls team wins regional meet, will compete in Langley

Most Read