September 3, 2012
Deadly Labour Day weekend on Ontario waters
By ALEX WEBER and HANK DANISZEWSKI, QMI Agency
BAYFIELD, ONT. - A deadly weekend in Southwestern Ontario waters is proof the water safety message isn't getting through, an expert says after two men drowned and a third was pulled from the water without vital signs.
"Most people don't think it can ever happen to them," Shannon Scully-Pratt, a water safety expert with the Canadian Red Cross, said Monday.
Even experienced boaters and strong swimmers need to exercise caution, she said.
"If you're not going to put water safety first, don't think it's not going to happen to you."
The drowning deaths raised the death toll in Southwestern Ontario to eight and marked the third long weekend in a row drownings have occurred.
The Labour Day weekend got off to a deadly start Friday when Jeremy Garber, 36, of Milverton, Ont., drowned while swimming in turbulent waters at Sauble Beach, about 200 kilometres north of London, Ont.
On Monday, a 27-year-old man disappeared while swimming with friends and family at Long Point Provincial Park.
The man slipped below the water's surface at about 4 p.m. when he came across a sandbar, Norfolk County OPP said.
Emergency personnel and about 60 people at the beach formed a human chain to search for the missing man.
He was found about 25 minutes after he disappeared but couldn't be revived by paramedics, police said. His name wasn't released to allow police to notify family members.
Also Monday, OPP officers resumed searching Lake Huron near Bayfield for the body of a 53-year-old man from Atwood, Ont., north of Mitchell, Ont.
The man and five passengers were on his 10-metre power boat when he and a 62-year-old man from North Perth, Ont., jumped into the water at about 4 p.m. Sunday, Lambton OPP said.
Neither man was wearing a life-jacket when they decided to go for a swim about eight kilometres south of Bayfield.
"They got into distress very quickly due to the turbulence of the water and the high winds," Const. John Reurink said.
The winds pushed the boat away from the swimmers and the remaining people on board had trouble steering the vessel because the operator was in the water, Reurink said.
The passengers steered the boat closer to the 62-year-old man, striking him with the vessel before pulling him on board.
He was taken to hospital in Goderich and treated for non-life threatening injuries.
The boat operator slipped under the water before he could be rescued, police said.
The identities of the men weren't released.
OPP officers on ATVs scoured the shorelines Sunday and Monday searching for the body of the missing boater, while OPP boats and a provincial underwater search and rescue team took to the waters. An OPP helicopter also joined the search Monday.
Scully-Pratt said the case is the perfect example of why it's always important to wear a life-jacket even if you think you don't need it.
"A lot of people put them on and then take them off when they're out on a boat," she said. "Wearing it is just a habit you have to make."
It's also important to keep a close eye on changing weather and water conditions and head to shore if the water starts getting rough, Scully-Pratt said.
"In general, it's about knowing your own ability in the water ... and being prepared."
JUNE 24 - A two-year-old boy drowns in a backyard pool in Salford near Woodstock, Ont.
JULY 1 - Jeno Bujitas, 27, of Howick Township drowns at Grand Bend's main beach.
JULY 13 - Brother and sister David and Lisa Harder, aged 7 and 10, of Norfolk County drown at Port Burwell, Ont.
AUG. 5 - Walter Santos, 43, of Mississauga, Ont., drowns at Long Point Provincial Park.
AUG. 31 - Jeremy Garber, 36, of Milverton, Ont., drowns at Sauble Beach.
SEPT. 2 - A 53-year-old man from Atwood is missing and presumed drowned after jumping from a boat into Lake Huron south of Bayfield, Ont.
MONDAY - A 29-year-old man from the GTA drowns at Long Point Provincial Park.