Slocan Lake tragedy highlights importance of lifejackets

The head of the Lifesaving Society’s BC and Yukon branch says the use of lifejackets continues to be a key concern for his organization.

Lily Harmer-Taylor

In light of Saturday’s mishap on Slocan Lake that left one young woman dead and three others missing, the head of the Lifesaving Society’s BC and Yukon branch says the use of lifejackets continues to be a key concern for his organization.

“It’s a very tragic situation,” Dale Miller said. “Our sole purpose is the prevention of drowning and water-related injuries. We’re very disappointed and distraught because unfortunately we do see these types of incidents every year.”

Lily Harmer-Taylor, 19, died in hospital overnight Saturday after the canoe she was in overturned on the lake. The rest of the group — Hayden Kyle, 21, Jule Wiltshire-Padfield, 15, and Skye Donnet, 18 — remain missing.

An eight-member RCMP dive team was expected to begin looking for them about 9 a.m. today after boat searches turned up nothing. A helicopter is also helping today. Police said none were wearing lifejackets and couldn’t confirm if there were any in the canoe at the time.

Miller noted a similar situation last year on Nicola Lake near Merritt where two 18 year old boys drowned after their canoe capsized. He said the society’s general message to boaters is to make sure they’re completely prepared to enter the water. “Often people think it’s not going to happen to me, but it just takes one bad move and all of a sudden a nice day on the water turns tragic,” he said.

Miller said typically in boat-related drownings, 70 to 80 per cent of victims are not wearing lifejackets. In one unusual case last year, two fishers on Kalamalka Lake were wearing lifejackets, but drowned because they were ill-fitting.

He added that taking precautions is particularly critical in cold water, such as glacier-fed Slocan Lake and suggested basic training is important so you know what to do when something happens to someone else.

“We too often see people drown in the company of others who didn’t know what to do in the situation. It could be basic CPR training. Even better would be water-related life-saving training.”

Miller said swimming lessons for kids can also make a “huge difference” when someone unexpectedly falls into the water.

He noted that ironically, Saturday marks the launch of National Safe Boating Awareness Week, which emphasizes the use of lifejackets. The Canadian Safe Boating Council has a series of instructional videos at smartboater.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Emergency dental clinic to open in Nelson during COVID-19 shutdowns

Only people with serious pain, infection, or trauma will be admitted

COVID-19: Interior Health orders closure of all fitness centres until May 30

The order is subject to revision, cancellation, or extension

Outrage over illegal dumping at Nakusp Landfill

Online photo shows garbage bags, cardboard boxes and bottles thrown around landfill container

Don’t avoid doctor’s office if you need help, say Kootenay Boundary physicians

There are alternatives to coming in physically to offices, docs say

FortisBC pausing power disconnections and late-fees amid COVID-19 crisis

Company says they plan to work with customers affected by COVID-19 on a “one on one” basis

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

B.C. health officer says homemade masks may prevent spread of COVID-19 to others

Practising physical distancing, frequent hand washing and resisting touching your face are proven methods

B.C.’s senior home staff measures show results in COVID-19 battle

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order restricts care aides to one facility

‘A matter of human decency’: Truckers’ union calls on gas stations, rest stops to fully re-open

Teamsters Canada wants feds, provinces to put pressure on facilities to re-open for transport workers

B.C. unveils $3.5M COVID-19 emergency fund for post-secondary students

Money will help students cover living expenses, food, travel, portable computers

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

COVID-19: ‘The Ballad of Bonnie Henry’ recorded and released

LISTEN: Quick turnaround for song penned by B.C. Order of Canada musician Phil Dwyer

Most Read