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Family mourns drowning victim


Family and friends gathered yesterday at the Darusalam mosque to say goodbye to a Toronto man who drowned at Wasaga Beach.

Irfan Jogiat, 20, a non-swimmer, died Saturday after the dinghy he was in was blown into deeper water within the marked swimming area and he jumped out. Although two passersby attempted CPR, they were unable to resuscitate him.

"We're six siblings, but he was one-in- a-million," said Farhana Jogiat Khote, his 24-year-old sister.

"It's a big shock for us. He was a hero to many."

"We believe it was to be. God decides when it is time for everyone to go," Khote added.

This is the third drowning in Wasaga Beach since 2005. That year, the body of six-year-old Toronto boy was found near the mouth of the Nottawasaga River, ending a 22-hour search. He'd gone missing the day before at Beach Area No. 1.

In July 2006, an 18-year-old Toronto man died after falling off a raft and slipping beneath the surface at Beach Area No. 1.

Many of those who gathered at the Pine Ridge Memorial Garden yesterday in Pickering, where Jogiat was buried, had difficulty letting go.

"Nobody was willing to let the coffin go," Khote said.

"They just stood there for hours, waiting and mourning."

She described the outpouring of support for the family as amazing.

"It's phenomenal the amount of friends he's made and the lives he's touched," she said.

His family immigrated to Canada in November 2004 from the small African nation of Malawi. It was that heritage that earned him his high school nickname.

"He was known as Malawi and his brother Mohammed as mini-Malawi since he kept teaching the other students about the country," Khote said.

Jogiat had recently graduated from Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute where he was known among friends as a great fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, as well as being a player and coach for local hockey teams.

Educating others was an important part of Jogiat's life. He would spend his spare time away from his studies tutoring young children in the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood his family called home.

"The community is really reaching out to us. He left an immeasurable amount of impact on those around him," his sister said.

A Muslim, religion played an important part in his life as he earned the title of Hafiz at the young age of 11. The honour is reserved for those who have memorized the entire Qur'an.

Jogiat hoped to one day become an aviation technician.

"He liked to look up into the sky at planes," Khote said.

"He didn't want the hassle of being a pilot, so this was the closest thing for him."

There are currently no lifeguards on duty at Wasaga Beach, although this recent drowning has some people once again rethinking that policy.

A lifeguard program would cost about $100,000 a year to run and there is no regulation requiring lifeguards or beach patrols at any provincial parks.

Ontario Parks has always said it's happy with the status quo, and since lifeguards have been removed from Wasaga Beach, the number of drowning death has not changed.

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