Red Cross issues water safety warning after child drowns in Lake Erie

Lake Erie Photo by Shutterstock/Jeffrey M. Frank

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have found the body of an eight-year-old boy who went missing in Lake Erie Saturday afternoon.

In a video posted to Twitter, OPP Sgt. Ed Sanchuk said that members of OPP’s underwater search and rescue unit and marine unit found the boy’s body at 2:35 p.m. Sunday afternoon, approximately 180 metres from the shoreline of Cedar Drive in Turkey Point, Ont.

According to Sanchuk, the boy was last seen after he abandoned a floating raft and attempted to swim back to shore.

Unable to locate their son, family members contacted police around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. Members of the Norfolk County OPP, the OPP marine unit, and the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton spent Saturday evening and all-day Sunday searching for the boy. The underwater search and rescue unit joined the search on Sunday morning.

“The identity of the deceased is not being released pending notification of next of kin, and I will not be answering any further questions today to give time for the family to grieve,” Sanchuk said.

Soon after the boy’s body was found, the OPP posted a video to their Twitter feed featuring Jillian Derusha of the Canadian Red Cross giving tips on water safety.

“Be aware of your own swimming abilities,” Derusha said. “And in those cases where you aren’t a confident swimmer and you’re going into those areas and you’re trying to wade in without knowledge of [the area], there’s a lot of things under the water that you can’t recognize. There’s different drop offs, there could even be currents.”

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According to the Lifesaving Society’s website, drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death for children under the age of 10. To prevent incidents of drowning in children, the Lifesaving Society recommends that you:

  • Keep children under the age of five within arm’s reach
  • Always supervise the child when swimming
  • Have the child swim with a buddy
  • Enroll the child in swimming lessons to ensure their swimming ability
  • And swim in lifeguarded areas

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