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2 drownings in 2 days in Saskatchewan spurs reminder about water safety

Click to play video: '2 drownings in 2 days in province spurs reminder about water safety'
2 drownings in 2 days in province spurs reminder about water safety
WATCH: Tragedy struck this August long, RCMP confirming two men drowned in two separate accidents. Easton Hamm has more on the circumstances and what you need to know to stay safe. – Aug 9, 2023

Two people drowned in Saskatchewan, one at Lake Diefenbaker on Saturday, and another in the South Saskatchewan River just south of Saskatoon on Sunday.

Saskatchewan RCMP and Outlook and Elbow Fire and Rescue responded to a report on Saturday of a 35-year-old man drowning on Lake Diefenbaker around 8:40 p.m. and found the body the following morning.

Officers then responded Sunday to a report of a 31-year-old man drowning in the river near Highway 219. The man was recovered and was later declared dead by EMS.

The man who drowned at Lake Diefenbaker was identified through multiple social media posts as Raza Aziz, which a GoFundMe page in his name said he was trying to help a family who was stranded out in the water.

“Without a second thought, he dove in to save them, putting their lives before his own,” read the web page.

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Click to play video: '‘Water is unpredictable’: Lifesaving Society stresses safety ahead of long weekend'
‘Water is unpredictable’: Lifesaving Society stresses safety ahead of long weekend

Ali Abukar, CEO of the Saskatoon Open Door Society, said he heard the tragic news over the weekend from the community.

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“It shows, like many other immigrants and newcomers to this country, he cared about people and he wanted to help,” Abukar said.

He said Aziz was a client of the society, noting he recently arrived in Saskatoon in May.

Deputy Chief of Operations for Saskatoon Fire Rob Hogan stressed some water safety tips that people should keep in mind whenever they go out to enjoy the water.

He said if people are boating they should have a lifejacket, whistle, and if you’re on a water craft that you should make sure it’s in good working order.

Click to play video: 'Saskatoon deputy fire chief reminds residents to use good judgement when swimming following weekend drownings'
Saskatoon deputy fire chief reminds residents to use good judgement when swimming following weekend drownings

“If you’re out on the river remember the river is a moving body of water, so if you do get into trouble the easiest thing to do is tread water and it will tend to push you to shore,” Hogan said.

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He noted there’s a bylaw that prevents swimming in the river within Saskatoon city limits.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), drowning has caused over 2.5 million deaths globally in the last decade, and across all age groups, children ages one to nine experience the highest drowning rates.

Each year, more than 450 Canadians drown in preventable incidents, and around 100 of those drownings are related to recreational boating, according to the Canadian Drowning Prevention Coalition.

The highest adult rates of drowning in Canada, according to 2022 statistics, are among men 50 to 64 years old (25 per cent), seniors 65 years and older (22 per cent) and young adults 20 to 34 years of age (21 per cent).

— with files from Global News’ Don Mitchell and Katie Dangerfield

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