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Lifesaving officials report more child drownings this year 0

By Nicki Cruickshank, Barrie Examiner

The drowning death of a nine-year-old boy in Wasaga Beach Wednesday marks the second water-related fatality in Simcoe-Muskoka this summer.

According to Huronia West OPP, the boy was declared dead after his body was pulled from Georgian Bay around 6 p.m. and emergency crews performed CPR at the scene before rushing him to Collingwood’s General and Marine Hospital.

The discovery came two hours after the boy reportedly disappeared near Kirby Lane in the east end of Wasaga Beach.

The boy’s identity is not being released as police continue to investigate.

Marine units from the Wasaga Beach fire department, the Collingwood/Blue Mountains OPP, the provincial park, as well as the OPP’s helicopter, were involved in a ground and water search.

Barb Byers, public education director for the Lifesaving Society, said there’s been an increase in swimming and falling-into-water deaths involving children in 2012 over last year.

Byers said 57 drownings in Ontario have been reported, one more than the 56 reported in 2011.

“There’s more children drowning — three under the age of five, and four children between age five and 12 this year,” she said. “What’s different this year too is there are more swimming fatalities — 20 this year over 12 in 2011, and 24 drownings from people falling into the water versus 21 last year,” she said.

On July 7 in Ramara Township, an 80-year-old London woman drowned after falling off a cottage dock into Lake Couchiching.

Marilyn Zaple was on Heron Island, across from Fern Resort, when she fell into the water and was pulled to shore by her husband, who performed CPR.

She had no vital signs, and died at Soldier’s Memorial Hospital in Orillia.

Byers said she believes the high number of drownings is caused by overconfidence and a lack of training.

“Why is this happening? I don’t know why but it’s been a very hot and dry summer, so it stands to reason that people want to go swimming,” she said. “Most people think they can swim pretty well. They get overconfident, but swimming in a lake and open water isn’t like a shallow end of a pool.

“People get over their heads if they don’t see the dropoff in the water, and they panic. Or, they can swim fine, but then a big wave comes over them and then get water in their mouth and get turned around in the water,” Byers added.

“People underestimate the power of water.”

OPP and the Canadian Red Cross remind swimmers of all ages to be cautious around any open water and wear a personal floatation device (PFD) if you are not a strong swimmer or are unfamiliar with the water you are swimming in.

Byers mirrored that message, adding that swimming lessons are highly recommended for all ages, too.

“The message is learn to swim,” she said. “It’s never too late to learn. And, for non-swimmers or children, put life jackets on them.”

nichole.cruickshank@sunmedia.ca

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Recent drownings in Ontario

 

• July 18 — A nine-year-old boy pulled from the water in Wasaga Beach has died.

Huronia West OPP say the boy, whose identity isn't being publicized, was declared dead after his body was pulled from Georgian Bay around 6 p.m.

Emergency crews performed CPR before rushing him to Collingwood's General and Marine Hospital.

The discovery came two hours after the boy reportedly disappeared near Kirby Lane in the east end of Wasaga Beach.

 

• July 14 — A 12-year-old Toronto boy drowned at Sherkston Shores Resort in Port Colburne shortly before 8:30 p.m.

Divers recovered his body not long after the boy was seen at the Quarry beach with friends about six metres from shore. He began to struggle in the water and went under.

 

• July 13 — A young brother and sister from Norfolk County drowned at Port Burwell, 80 kilometres southeast of London.

The bodies of seven-year-old David Harder and sister Lisa, 10, were pulled from Lake Erie after they and a nine-year old sibling became in distress at about 4 p.m.

A 19-year-old family members rescued the nine-year-old but was unable to reach the others.

Neither child could swim and they weren't wearing life jackets.

 

• July 7 —An 80-year-old London woman drowned in Ramara Township after falling off a cottage dock into Lake Couchiching.

Marilyn Zaple was on Heron Island, across from Fern Resort, when she fell into the water and was pulled to shore by her husband, who performed CPR.

She had no vital signs, and died at Soldier's Memorial Hospital in Orillia.

 

• July 2 — A 71-year-old Scarborough woman died from complications due to nearly drowning at a small beach on Simcoe Road in Ramara Township the day before.

 

• July 1 — A 27-year-old Toronto man's body is recovered from the Welland River after he leapt from the Weightman Bridge for a swim.

 

• July 1 — Jeno Bujtas, 27, of Howick Township drowned at the main beach in Grand Bend.

 

• June 24 — A two-year-old Ingersoll boy drowned after falling into a backyard pond in Salford, Oxford County.

 

• June 17 — Toronto police charged a Scarborough man with criminal negligence after the death of a two-year-old boy who was pulled from his pond.

Police said the toddler was brought back to life by first responders around 10:30 a.m. and was rushed to Scarborough Hospital and then the Hospital for Sick Children, where he died later that afternoon.

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