As summertime nears end, police probe seventh London-area drowning

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Ri Jin, the 45-year-old Exeter man who drowned in Grand Bend earlier this week, is the seventh drowning in Southwestern Ontario this summer.

Emergency crews responded about 9:30 p.m. Monday to reports of an unresponsive man who had been pulled ashore, Lambton OPP said. He was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

There were at least seven drownings this summer in Southwestern Ontario, similar to the eight drownings reported by early September of last year. Five of this year's drownings, including two Windsor men who died after their vessel capsized, happened in Lake Erie.

The first drowning of the season was an eight-year-old boy, Mustapha Adam, who drowned in Lake Erie near Turkey Point in June. He was last seen on a raft and tried to swim back to the shore.

Across the province, 63 people have died in water-related incident this year, as of Aug. 27, said Barbara Byers, senior research officer at Lifesaving Society, a charity that aims to prevent drowning and water-related injury. That number is on par with the 66 drownings this time last year.

In Canada, there were 208 drownings in 2021, up slightly from 204 the previous year.

About 65 per cent of drownings happen in lakes or rivers, Byers said. Ninety-nine per cent of drownings, she added, happens in areas without lifeguards or supervision.

“In many cases, people who drown are not a very strong swimmer,” Byers said. “They may feel like they can handle themselves in a backyard pool. Swimming in open water is a different situation.”

Byers laid out several safety tips to remember when swimming or near water:

Byers is encouraging Ontarians — regardless of their age — to “always swim with a buddy.” About one-third of people who drown are alone, she said.

“With children, you should obviously watch them, but even as an adult, often we hear about someone who went swimming on their own. If you swim with a buddy or at least go to the beach, pool or the lake with someone, and you get into trouble, they can help quickly.”

Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press

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