Edmonton man identified as person who drowned at Sylvan Lake
Editor’s note: The RCMP originally said the men were floating on inner tubes. However, on Thursday they said the men were floating on “objects similar to round inflatables.” The story has been updated to reflect the latest information.
Crews recovered the body of a young man from Sylvan Lake at 6:35 p.m. Thursday.
They had been searching the central Alberta lake since Wednesday afternoon, when RCMP said two men were floating on round inflatables when a wave knocked both of them into the water. One man was helped out of the water by people on a nearby dinghy, RCMP said.
The other man, identified by a family friend as 21-year-old Palwinder Singh of Edmonton, did not resurface.
RCMP said his body was found close to where he was last seen.
Singh’s friend told Global News the young man came to Canada last November and was a part-time business and accounting student at NorQuest College.
“He was a good friend. Young, energetic. Wanted to do something, that’s why he came to Canada,” Maninder Kaloti said from Sylvan Lake on Thursday.
“It’s a shocking situation… It’s hard to believe, nobody could sleep last night.”
Kaloti said Singh was with a group of people at the lake on Wednesday. Singh and his friend went out onto the lake on air mattresses, where they got into trouble, Kaloti explained.
“They got pushed northward, deep into the water,” Kaloti said. “They were trying to come back because they didn’t have any paddles with them, so they were just using their hands. They were trying to come back when he lost his balance and fell into the water.
“The second guy tried to save him but he lost his hand… When he tried to save him, he went into the water too. He was struggling and then all of a sudden a kid saw from the boat, so the boat saved the second guy. But they couldn’t save Palwinder.”
RCMP said the men were not wearing life-jackets. Kaloti said neither man knew how to swim.
“They must have underestimated the danger of the situation and didn’t have any contingency plan. That’s why they didn’t have their life-jackets on,” Kaloti said.
“It just happened all of a sudden, basically.”
Kelly Carter, executive director of the Lifesaving Society Alberta & Northwest Territories, called the incident “extremely tragic.”
“The tough thing is that the wind can pick up at any moment or any instant and the environment or the conditions can change,” Carter said.
“This is one of the areas that we see that there’s a lot of rescues that happen — where people are in an area they feel is safe or shallow and the wind picks up, they get blown to deeper water and all of a sudden they can’t stand.”
He stressed that even people who can swim should wear life-jackets when on the water.
“This does happen. Drowning is not discriminatory, it can happen to anyone at any age,” he said. “We need to be prepared, we need to wear a life-jacket.”
The Sylvan Lake drowning is the 10th in Alberta this year.
Thursday’s search efforts involved the RCMP, Sylvan Lake Fire Department, Red Deer County Search and Rescue and Alberta Environment and Parks. Crews used underwater cameras, boat and shore searches and sonar in their search.
An underwater recovery team was also brought in late Thursday afternoon to join the efforts.
The RCMP said earlier Thursday that officers recovered the objects the men were floating on.
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