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

Salmon Arm projects keep rolling thanks to taxpayers’ early payments

‘Speed hump’ to go on Okanagan Avenue adjacent to Fletcher Park

Sicamous arena upgrade project grows, funding approval needed

An additional $100,000 needed to complete expanded project

Sicamous asks people to use face masks, not police others

Face masks recommended for any indoor public place where physical distancing isn’t possible

Roots and Blues online festival live tonight on Black Press Media

Tune in to Black Press Media to watch the festival live Aug. 14, 15 and 16

Okanagan COVID-19 case count growth slows

BCCDC data shows a stark contrast between Okanagan-specific numbers released in July and August

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Vernon pedestrian struck dies from injuries

Emergency responders are on scene on Main Street near the CIBC, traffic affected

UPDATE: Fire in Lake Country a “smoke chase”

A water bomber reportedly took off from Penticton and is on the way to Lake Country

Kelowna man convicted of not paying taxes after turbulent trial

Man claims he doesn’t meet the definition of a ‘person’ under the federal Income Tax Act

Accused in Kelowna’s 2018 Canada Day killing granted bail more than 1.5 years later

Esa Carriere was stabbed to death during the Canada Day fireworks in downtown Kelowna in 2018

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Most Read