Quebec sees dramatic rise in pool and lake drowning deaths
Quebec officials say a man who was swept away by a fast-moving current in the St. Lawrence River is presumed to have drowned, adding to a spate of drowning deaths causing concern in the province.
Two men were in a small boat attempting to retrieve a fallen drone around 8 a.m. on Monday, when their vessel capsized. Police say one of the boaters, who was rescued and taken to hospital, was wearing a lifejacket. It is not known if the other man was wearing one.
Thirty people have drowned in the province so far this year -- a 30 per cent increase from 2018.
Three of the 30 drownings occurred in pools, while the rest happened in open bodies of water like lakes and rivers.
The Quebec Lifesaving Society told CTV Montreal that high water levels, exacerbated by springtime rain and snow, are creating stronger currents that can be challenging for swimmers.
Experts say wearing a lifejacket in and around open water is crucial.
“[The current] changes really quickly and sometimes too quickly to get to shore,” said Alexie Gomez of Lachine Canoe Club. “People are really far, they go a lot further than they should, so it takes a long time to come back.”
This rise in drowning deaths is raising alarm in the province, with one of the latest victims being a four-year-old boy who died in a pool in the Laval area.
Emergency services were called around 3 p.m. on Sunday after the boy was pulled from a backyard pool in the Ste. Dorothee neighbourhood. Police arrived on scene first and began CPR until paramedics took over. The boy was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Police say there were adults nearby, but it is unclear what went wrong.
Raynald Hawkins of the Quebec Lifesaving Society cautioned that parents of small children in the water should always be within “arms reach.”
“If you are not arm reach position with your kid that means [you’re] too far,” Hawkins said, stressing the importance of children using personal flotation devices.
Across Canada, drowning deaths have made headlines steadily throughout the year.
In May, a 23-year-old Indian exchange student was swept away by the North Thompson River in B.C.; in June a 29-year-old Manitoba man drowned in Madge Lake, Sask., after jumping in the water to rescue a child; and, on Monday, the body of a missing 24-year-old man was pulled from the water in Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula National Park.
Despite the spike in Quebec -- which sees an average of 80 drownings a year -- the overall trend across the country is only slightly higher than last year, with preliminary data showing 118 reported drownings compared to 116 from last year.