Emergency responders on the Okanagan River Channel pulled a man from the water near the bridge on the Okanagan River Channel at Green Mountain Road and Highway 97 on Wednesday. Editor’s note: this photo has been edited from the original that was posted. Mark Brett/Western News

Man drowns in rafting incident on Channel

Emergency crews responded to the scene where a man drowned Wednesday afternoon

Update: 5:32 p.m.

RCMP report the man pulled from the rushing waters of the Okanagan River Channel this afternoon was pronounced dead at Penticton Regional Hospital. Cpl. Don Wrigglesworth said the death is now being investigated by the B.C. Coroners’ Service.

Wrigglesworth also added a correction that five men were involved in the incident when their tied together raft caught on either die of the pillar. Four made it to shore safely, while the fifth became entangled, and despite the efforts of emergency personnel, died at the hospital.

Update: 4:40 p.m.

A man possibly drowned after getting caught up in the Okanagan River Channel, where he and three others were attempting to float on rafts Wednesday afternoon

Police say they got a call of a man in distress in the Okanagan River Channel Wednesday around 3:30 p.m.

Police point at the raft, still caught up on the Green Mountain Road bridge over the Okanagan River Channel, where a man possibly drowned. Dustin Godfrey/Western News
They were floating with rafts tied together down a fast-moving channel Wednesday afternoon, but when they came to the bridge at Green Mountain Road and Highway 97, the rafts got caught up.

The man’s three friends were able to make it to shore safely, but the man apparently got caught up in the ropes that tied the rafts together.

“It appeared the man was unable to keep himself above water. He was screaming for help,” said Cpl. Don Wrigglesworth. “When we attended, it was determined the male had been underwater for approximately five to 10 minutes. The water is very swift, with high levels. It’s a dangerous location for anyone to enter.”

Police blocked others from attempting to rescue the man in the high water and potentially putting themselves at risk. Emergency crews also waited for the support of the fire department’s jet skis to enter the water.

“The fire department entered the water, they had their watercraft in. They were able to cut the rope, but … the male was found attached to the rope with what appeared to be the floatation device that he was on,” Wrigglesworth said.

“He was brought to shore, where B.C. Ambulance and Penticton Fire Rescue are attempting life-saving techniques at this point.”

Prior to the jet skis’ arrival, Wrigglesworth told the Western News that due to the time spent underwater, it was believed to be a body recovery.

Wrigglesworth advised that those who do enter the channel don’t tie rafts together, particularly with the high water on the channel.

Original: 3:40 p.m.

Emergency services responded to a call of a possible drowning on the Okanagan River Channel Wednesday around 3:30 p.m.

An overturned raft is currently caught up at the pillars on the bridge located at Green Mountain Road and Highway 97.

According to our reporter at the scene, emergency services have recovered a victim from the scene with the help of Penticton fire department’s water rescue units.

The 21-year-old victim was loaded into a waiting ambulance and has been taken to Penticton Regional Hospital.