News Provincial

Teen pulled from water without vital signs at Barrie beach

By Ian McInroy, Barrie Examiner

A teen visiting from London, England, drowned while swimming at the downtown beach.

The 16-year-old male was reported missing to Barrie police via a 911 call from a member of the public shortly after 6 p.m. at the Lakeshore Drive beach.

He was found in the water almost an hour later.

Samantha Hoffmann, public fire and life safety officer with the Barrie fire department, said the male was pulled from the water without vital signs.

Police say he was swimming outside the designated swimming area.

Hoffmann said his body was found in between 25 and 30 feet of water.

"We participated in a human chain and fire department staff swam outside the buoys," Hoffmann said.

Close to two dozen civilians and first-responders worked shoulder-to-shoulder conducting a line search in the water when an officer with the Barrie Police Marine Unit called out, "I got him!"

The teen was pulled from the water, not far from the swimming area's buoy line, and taken to a waiting ambulance. He was taken to Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre and later pronounced dead.

His name has not been released.

On Saturday, Steve Lee Young, the city's manager of recreation, said there were additional lifeguards on duty to promote the city's free PFD loaner program for all ages.

"They are also reminding families to keep within arms reach of those under six years old and all non-swimmer family members," he said.

"We are all extremely saddened by the event that took place at Centennial Beach on Friday," Young said. "Our thoughts are with the family at this very difficult time."

He said lifeguards are on duty at Centennial and Johnson's Beach from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m daily (weather permitting).

"Signs are posted when lifeguards are on duty and buoy lines mark the designated swimming areas that are supervised. The incident occurred at 6 p.m., after our lifeguard's shift had ended," he said.

"Our staff go through extensive beach training prior to the season starting in June. Staff also do refresher training sessions throughout the beach season."

Twenty-three lifeguards — who have previous experience working at the city's three pools at the Allandale, East Bayfield and Holly community centres — have been hired for Centennial Beach and Johnson's Beach, the only supervised beaches in Barrie and are on duty from July 1 to August 21 this year.

"We choose the guard times based on peak usage of beaches. We keep track of daily usage throughout the summer," Young said. "During our scheduled shifts of 11:30 a.m to 5:30 p.m., we will call in additional staff if needed based on usage. 

"The majority of our lifeguards are post-secondary students who go back to school, which makes it hard to properly staff the beaches in late August," he added.

On Monday, Const. Nicole Rodgers said there would be no further police investigation.

After the teen was pulled from the water, he was accompanied by a woman, believed to be his mother, inside the ambulance, which remained at the scene for a few minutes.

The ambulance departed the beach shortly after 7 p.m. with its lights and sirens activated, along with a police escort.

At around the same time, police began to cordon off the area and shut down the beach for the investigation.

Before the teen was located, Melissa Sipos, an employee at Kezington Burger Bar's Centennial Beach location, said she spoke to a woman she thought was the teen's mother.

"I went out with her to pray. I was helping her out — helping her breathe," she said. "It seemed like she lost all hope."

Sipos said as she watched the search for the teen continue, she turned to her faith.

"I just kept thinking about God," she said.

Another woman at the scene, who did not provide her name, said the tragedy hit close to home.

"I've got a daughter who is 16. I can't imagine what the mother is going through," she said.

The most recent drowning at Centennial Beach was a 36-year-old Mississauga man in August 2004.

imcinroy@postmedia.com

 



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