Spike in drowning deaths prompts warning

A significant increase in the number of recreational drowning incidents this summer is prompting the BC Coroners Service to ask for caution.

A significant increase in the number of recreational drowning incidents this summer is prompting the BC Coroners Service to reiterate the need for greater caution around the province’s lakes, rivers and ocean coastline.

BC Coroners Service statistics show that 34 persons have drowned in recreational incidents in the province between July 1 and Aug. 21.

This represents an increase of more than 50 per cent when compared to 2011, where a total of 22 persons drowned during all of July and August. In 2010, the number of drownings for the full two-month period was 24.

The highest number of drownings – a total of 14 – has occurred in the southern Interior region of the province. Nine have died on Vancouver Island, and five in northern B.C.

Almost half the deaths – a total of 15 – occurred in lakes. Another 11 occurred in rivers, with six in the ocean and two in swimming pools.

Of those who died, only five were female. One child under the age of 10 died, and one teenager. In contrast, five of those who died were over the age of 70 and another six were in their sixties.

Seven persons died while swimming and another seven died from falling into water unexpectedly. Others were boating, attempting to cliff-dive, or rafting/tubing. There have been no scuba-diving deaths so far this summer.

Investigation into these deaths is ongoing in all cases. It is clear, however, that some of them could have been prevented through better water safety measures.