On a day when St. Malo Beach is usually packed, there were few visitors.
“Normally it’s crowded around here, it’s crazy but now there’s like nobody,” said regular beach goer Corynne Simard.
The crowds are staying away after 19-year-old Calvin Dueck drowned at the busy beach Saturday afternoon. The Rosenort teen was said to be a gifted athlete. His death was shocking to his baseball and hockey team mates and coaches.
“He was a natural athlete and it’s not like he didn’t know how to swim, because we definitely went swimming all the time,” said Dueck’s friend and teammate, Gavin Enns.
“He was one of those guys that lit up a room, he just always knew what to say to get you smiling,” Enns went on to say.
Friends and eyewitnesses of the drowning victim are now calling for lifeguards or beach patrol officers at St. Malo Beach. This is not the first time the idea has been proposed.
“We have suggested beach safety officers there as well, but again that’s not our decision it’s the province of Manitoba’s decision on where these beach safety officers are put,” said Sarah Dyck, Water Smart Coordinator at the Lifesaving Society Manitoba.
Signs are currently posted that warn swimmer’s there is no supervision. They also say to call 911 for emergencies. Witness who watched the frantic rescue effort to save Calvin Dueck say the busy camp ground needs more than park patrol officers.
“I thought park patrol officers will probably have a defibrillator and they can come and they can help,” said an eyewitness named Kristy. “If they can’t help this young man at least they can come to the beach and do crowd control.”
It’s the third drowning at St. Malo Provincial Park in the past six years, but the province says there are no plans to implement a beach safety officer program. They are waiting for the coroner’s report and the RCMP investigation.