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Drownings in Manitoba spark warnings from police and experts

The number of fatal drownings in Manitoba has police and experts issuing a reminder to Manitobans about how quickly fun in the water can turn tragic.

It comes following the death of a 33-year-old man this week at Pine Point Rapids in Whiteshell Provincial Park.

RCMP officers were advised the man was with a youth who wasn’t in the water. There were other people in the area and one person tried to help but could not save the man who started having difficulty in the rapids.

“When he entered the deeper part of the water after the rapids, I guess it’s quite turbulent with a bit of current, he began to struggle and it sounds like he went under very quickly and didn’t resurface,” said Sgt. Paul Manaigre.

The incident, which was reported to officers at around 4 pm Aug. 9, occurred on the Whiteshell River where the rapids are located.

Manaigre said flows are still heavier than normal due to high water levels and the man wasn’t wearing a personal flotation device or PFD.

A bystander who jumped into the water to try and help the man couldn’t get to him in time, according to Manaigre.

On Wednesday afternoon, an RCMP dive team recovered the man’s body.

“It’s a tragic incident that unfortunately he didn’t make it,” Manaigre said.

Based on police and media reports it’s the 11th fatal drowning so far in Manitoba in 2022 compared to 10 at this time last year.

The majority have occurred in natural bodies of water like lakes and rivers.

To help keep you and your kids safe, the Lifesaving Society of Manitoba said you should always swim or boat with a buddy, wear a personal flotation device or life jacket when appropriate and make sure children are always actively supervised and within arms reach if they’ re under seven.

“If you’re boating, if you’re doing water sports activities, the life jacket needs to be on. Not just there but on,” said Christopher Love, Water Smart and safety management coordinator with the Lifesaving Society of Manitoba. “And if it’s small children you can use that as an added layer of protection even if they know how to swim.”

Love said people also need to take the water conditions into consideration. Due to high water strong currents, changing topography and rocks and trees in the water can all pose risks.

“You just can’t take for granted what you may have known about a location before,” Love said. “And be aware that conditions very well may have changed or are still in the process of changing.

“One drowning death is one too many and it’s something that we always want to educate people on so that we’re preventing any future tragedies from taking place out there.”

Love said you should never swim or boat while intoxicated.

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