Man who drowned at Fort McMurray rec centre remembered as passionate father

Dima Serbulenco, 34, with his daughter Zinovia. Supplied to Global News

A Fort McMurray man who died after a drowning incident at a recreation centre in that city is being remembered as a passionate man who put his role as a father above all others.

Dima Serbulenco, 34, died on Dec. 18 in an Edmonton hospital. He had been initially taken to hospital in Fort McMurray around noon on Dec. 12 after what RCMP described as a “possible drowning” in a pool at MacDonald Island Park.

He was transferred to Edmonton on Dec. 17 but died just one day later.

Dima was married to his wife Elena, and was a stay-at-home dad to three-year-old Zinovia.

“[Dima] was very outdoorsy, he loved being outdoors, he believed in living a very healthy lifestyle,” Samara Sullivan, a family friend, said Tuesday. “He was passionate about history, reading, and geography.
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“His biggest passion became his daughter, who was born after the 2016 wildfire we had in Fort McMurray.

“He quit his job to be a stay-at-home-dad with Zinovia, to make sure that her days were as enriched as they possibly could be,” Sullivan said.

Dima Serbulenco pictured with his three-year-old daughter Zinovia. Supplied to Global News

Sullivan added that Dima had met Elena in Ontario about ten years ago, but both of them had grown up in the European country of Moldova. Dima was a strong swimmer and even initially met his wife swimming at a pool.

“He was a swimmer his entire life,” Sullivan said. “He was very very good, very very fit.”

Elena and Dima Serbulenco. Supplied to Global News

Friends of the pair have launched a GoFundMe in hopes of raising money to support Elena and Zinovia. Both Elena and Dima had moved to Fort McMurray around six years ago to work at Suncor Energy, and while Dima had taken time off to be a father he was set to go back to work in January.

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“If anyone that’s lost a partner especially and an income, it has such a major impact,” Sullivan said. “And she’s very much alone, she doesn’t have any family in town.”

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The GoFundMe to support Dima’s family has already raised over $43,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.

Wood Buffalo RCMP are investigating what lead to Dima’s drowning. Sullivan said the family doesn’t have the exact details around what happened but hopes to understand soon.

“[Dima] was the type of guy that would just make you laugh or smile any time you saw him. Easy going, loved his wife, loved travel — a real family man.”

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