Another river tragedy

·3 min read

The body of a 34-year-old man from Redcliff has been recovered from the South Saskatchewan River following a daylong search led by the RCMP.

Corp. Troy Savinkoff with Alberta RCMP media relations was reached by telephone on Monday morning and gave a full statement on the weekend incident.

“On July 31 just after 6 p.m., Redcliff RCMP received a call to assist the fire department with a possible drowning at River Valley Park boat launch in Redcliff,” Savinkoff explained. “Early reports were that a male was attempting to swim across the waterway, across the river and got into trouble as he was floating down the area. Other bystanders in the area, including his friends, attempted to catch up to him and get him out of the water, however they were unsuccessful.”

Savinkoff said Search and Rescue teams as well as a HALO helicopter assisted with early efforts to locate the missing person but were ultimately unsuccessful.

“The Search and Rescue team was involved right at the onset,” Savinkoff reported. “Often with these types of searches, you’re trying to locate the person hopefully alive, so you do searches of the shoreline and sometimes inland a little bit, from downstream, and they were part of that initial search.”

The missing individual was not found during the initial search, so a more extensive search was started.

“Last evening, on August 1, the dive team with the Medicine Hat Fire Department … the Aquatics team, were conducting a search underwater and located the individual, who is a 34-year-old male from Redcliff. The family was notified and the RCMP medical examiner will be looking into which factors may have led to this really tragic incident.”

Savinkoff also observed that there have been a lot more incidents in the water this past week than usual and that it can be hard to identify, but all situations are different.

“I find that river crossings in particular get people into a lot of difficulty when they’re attempting to swim across a river,” said Savinkoff. “Quite often you have underwater eddies that can pull you in and distance is actually longer than they appear. It’s very easy to get into difficulty in that water, and when you do get into difficulty it’s very hard for people to assist you. This is a really tragic incident.”

Savinkoff warned individuals to be aware and make safe choices when in and around water.

“These are truly tragic events. Rivers are dangerous and they can even be dangerous situations for strong swimmers. A lot of caution needs to be taken, especially when attempting to swim directly across the river. Life jackets are always recommended. This summer we’ve seen a lot of tragic incidents and I don’t know if that has to do with COVID and people getting out and enjoying the hot weather – there are probably a lot of factors associated – but we need to make sure that we’re safe.”

LAUREN THOMSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News

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