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

Alberta vehicles allegedly damaged in Summerland

Lug nuts loosened, windows smashed in several instances in Okanagan community

Town of Osoyoos battling sewer odour issues

The town is apologizing for the odour emitted from its sewage treatment plant

Petition calls for traffic light at intersection of Highway 97 and Skaha Lake Road

The area frequently sees collisions in the summer according to petition

VIDEO: Crews in Summerland film Christmas parade in July

Filming, on July 31, took place during the hottest days of 2020

UPDATE: Solco Creek fire east of Okanagan Falls now classified as held

13.8 hectare was classified as out of control until Aug. 3

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Passengers escape unharmed from destructive houseboat fire in Shuswap

Cause of blaze on Mara Lake under investigation, flames erupt at 2 a.m. Aug. 4

Interior Health reports nine new cases of COVID-19, 149 linked to Kelowna

Nine new cases were reported in the Interior Health region over the long weekend’s four reporting periods

Former Kelowna resident makes fundraising goal for cancer fertility treatments

Rebecca Hamilton recieved a boost in a battle against cancer - $25,000 for post chemo treatments

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

UPDATE: Water bombers attack wildfire north of Sicamous above Shuswap Lake

Wildfire BC reports fire is still classified out of control, 25 personnel on ground

First degree murder charges for North Okanagan woman

59-year-old woman charged in Round Lake suspicious death incident

Most Read