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Fifth drowning in 14 days as man dies in Nanaimo

Jul 20 2012

Members of Nanaimo search and rescue on Thursday discovered the body of a missing man believed to have drowned in Colliery Dam Park.

The 61-year-old is the fifth man to drown on Vancouver Island in two weeks and the third in the last week.

The man, an avid photographer, had been at the park fishing with family and friends on Thursday evening.

About 8: 30 p.m., he told the group he was going to take pictures. When he hadn't returned by 10: 30 p.m., his family called Nanaimo RCMP.

Nanaimo search and rescue began a search about an hour later. At 4: 30 a.m., the man's body was found in a deep pool of water about 300 metres from where he was last seen.

Police have notified the man's family, but have not yet released his name.

Nanaimo RCMP and the B.C. Coroners Service are investigating.

The incident was the third drowning on the Island this week, and the fifth in just two weeks. All of the incidents involved males, who accounted for 84 per cent of accidental drowning deaths on the Island between 2006 and 2010.

It is believed that males die in accidental drownings at a much higher rate than females because they take more risks, said Barb McLintock, of the B.C. Coroners Service.

According to statistics from the B.C. Coroners Service, Vancouver Island had 100 accidental drowning deaths between 2006 and 2010, about a quarter of which occurred during July and August.

The region's total is second only to the Interior, which had 136 in the same period.

McLintock said the number of drownings on the Island is not surprising, given that it is surrounded by ocean and has many lakes and rivers.

While two of the three drownings this week involved men in their 60s, the 60-69 age group on Vancouver Island saw only 11 accidental drownings in 2006-10.

The 50-59 age group had the highest number, with 26, followed by those in their 40s, 30s and 20s. There were four deaths of children under the age of 20 and six of seniors over 70.

The Lifesaving Society, a not-for-profit organization whose mandate is to reduce water-related death and injury, said more than 500 people drown in Canada each year and drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death for people under the age of 10 in the country.

DROWNING DEATHS

There have been five accidental drowning deaths on the Island in the past two weeks:

July 19: A 61-year-old male is discovered in a deep pool of water at Colliery Dam Park in Nanaimo.

July 15: Cory Donald Heinz, 22, dies after going over the Stamp Falls near Port Alberni in an inflatable boat. Two women are rescued.

July 16: A 66-year-old man from the Lower Mainland drowns in Comox Lake.

July 12: Langford resident Richard Lemieux, 60, drowns in Florence Lake after his rowboat capsizes. His companion swims to shore.

July 6: Saanich resident Iman Bulghani, 20, is missing and presumed dead after a large wave capsizes his canoe. Another man is rescued.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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