Toddler saved after canoe capsizes and leaves two men dead

A tragic boating accident on a lake in the Township of South Frontenac, Ontario, this past Saturday left two Kingston men dead.

Justin Thomas Butts, 29, and Daniel MacDonald, 23, were about 100 meters away from shore with Butts’s three-year-old son when their canoe flipped and left them stranded.

Donna Young, the wife of one of the witnesses, told the CBC that the three boaters were standing up to celebrate a fish they’d caught when their canoe capsized.

According to Ontario Provincial Police, witnesses saw the two men go under water around 8:45 p.m. Nearby cottagers were able to quickly rescue the boy, but could not find the men. The boy was taken to the hospital as a precaution before being released into his family’s care. 

Beth Schnurr, a nearby resident whose neighbours helped rescue the boy, told the CBC that the boy wasn’t wearing a proper life jacket. Rather, it was a bathing suit with flotation elements sewn into it. Schnurr said that the boy was blue when they pulled him out of the water, but after coughing water out of his lungs he was fine.

The OPP orchestrated a search-and-rescue operation for the two men, and they recovered the bodies the following afternoon around 1 p.m.

Nearby resident Laura Thomson told the CBC that the community is deeply saddened. 

“It’s very traumatic for everybody around here, to have somebody so close to all these cottages with people around actually drowning, and nobody getting there in time for them,” she said.

Police don’t believe any outside factors contributed to the accident. They suspect the two men drowned when one attempted to help the other, who was not a strong swimmer.