Family 'suffering' as search continues for 2 men presumed drowned at Sandpoint Beach

Yogesh Bajgai, 26, is one of two men presumed to have drowned after getting in the water just west of Sandpoint Beach on Thursday, May 23, 2024.  (Submitted by Chuda Bajgai - image credit)
Yogesh Bajgai, 26, is one of two men presumed to have drowned after getting in the water just west of Sandpoint Beach on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Submitted by Chuda Bajgai - image credit)

Yogesh Bajgai, 26, one of two men who disappeared in the water west of Sandpoint Beach on Thursday, is a hard-working breadwinner for his family, his uncle told CBC News.

Chuda Bajgai, who identified Bajgai as his nephew, was at the beach on Friday, where the search continues.

"He is young, hardworking, supporting his family by working in a factory," Bajgai said of his nephew, "It's devastating news for all of us family members and relatives."

Bajgai explained that Yogesh's mother is not in good health and he is supporting his siblings as well.

"All of the family are depending on him. The family is in lots of suffering ... losing a family member is not easy."

The second man who crews are searching for is a St. Clair College graduate who studied computer networking, CBC News has learned. Police initially said the two men were international students.

Windsor police say they were swimming in the area west of Sandpoint Beach, an area with longstanding safety concerns.

Michael Evans/CBC
Michael Evans/CBC

First responders were called to the area shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday, Windsor police say.

"Once on scene, officers learned that two men were swimming just west of the beach when they suddenly went under the water and did not resurface," according to a statement by authorities.

Emergency services combed the water and are expected to resume their search Friday with the assistance of the Ontario Provincial Police dive team. Drones have also been used to help locate the missing men.

The City of Windsor describes the two-hectare site as "easily the most popular beach in the city" — but has proposed relocating the beach due to safety concerns over a number of years.

Several people have died by drowning at the site, the previous most recent being in May 2021, a city report on the project dated April 2024 notes.

The drownings were "primarily due to patrons straying outside of the marked swimming areas and into an adjacent area at the mouth of the Detroit River where deep waters and strong currents are known to prevail."

Two years ago, the city released a concept design for the area that would flip the location of the beach and park, moving the swimming area away from the mouth of the Detroit River. Two public consultations have been held on the issue.

Michael Evans/CBC
Michael Evans/CBC

The city has installed a fenced-off area, designating the safe swim area.

Ward 7 Coun. Angelo Marignani says the environmental assessment for making changes to the beach has been completed, and council is expecting an update in late 2024 or 2025.

"That will detail all the expenses, everything that that's needed to switch the beach from the west end to the east end. I'm pushing forward to having having that done sooner than later in the capital budget," he said, noting that while there is money put aside for the project, it's likely not enough.

Michael Evans/CBC
Michael Evans/CBC

"But speaking with the mayor and my fellow colleagues, they are all in support of trying to get it done sooner than later because of the safety concerns that we have here."

The project is currently slated for 2028 or 2029, he said, a timeline Marignani said was "just too long."

"I am confident that our mayor and council, we'll see the importance of this concern. This is a gem. We all love this beach, but it has to be safe first and foremost."

Michael Evans/CBC
Michael Evans/CBC

Bajgai says he feels the city needs to fix the problems at Sandpoint Beach.

"This situation is not a safe situation for all of the people living in Windsor too," he said. "This is also not the first incident here in Windsor, I think the city should do something and fix the problem because it is not safe for people."