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Coroner rules Okanagan Falls drowning death 'undetermined'

Volunteers from the search and rescue groups in Penticton and Oliver recovered a body from the Okanagan River Friday, April 25, 2014.
Image Credit: Penticton Search and Rescue
June 19, 2015 - 1:16 PM

OKANAGAN FALLS - The B.C. Coroner's Service figured out what killed an Edmonton man found floating in the Okanagan River near Okanagan Falls last spring, but questions about why he ended up in the river remain unanswered.

Coroner Walter Burns has determined Andrew Scott Gangl drowned in the river and alcohol and drugs were contributed factor. RCMP have ruled out foul play.

Gangl was discovered floating 20 feet from the river’s edge on the morning of April 25, 2014. Burns says the "non-witnessed" incident could have been accidental or a suicide based on the "balance of probabilities."

Police officers and search and rescue volunteers were called and pulled the man from the river at a location approximately three kilometres south of the Skaha dam. Gangl was found in a t-shirt, undershirt, underwear and socks. A running shoe was discovered close to shore 2.3 kilometres upstream of the recovery scene, according to Coroner Walter Burns' report.

Four pedestrian bridges that cross the river between the two locations are supported by concrete pillars that also act to control water flow, Burns says in his report. Based on current and the location of the shoe, it was ascertained Gangl entered the river at a point between the dam and the first bridge.

Gangl was found with a large cut over his left eye, in addition to having a number of scrapes and bruises, the report says, although the injuries did not contribute to his death.

Police conducted an extensive ground and water search of the area without finding evidence of struggle or foul play. Gangl’s pants and backpack were never recovered.

The body of Andrew Scott Gangl was discovered April 25, 2014, three kilometres downstream from the Skaha dam, which is pictured in this photo.
The body of Andrew Scott Gangl was discovered April 25, 2014, three kilometres downstream from the Skaha dam, which is pictured in this photo.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The coroner's report says Gangl had been visiting friends in Okanagan Falls when he decided to return to Edmonton on April 24, 2014. A witness said he was drinking alcohol and taking crystal meth. He was last seen at 7 p.m. after begin told to leave the residence following an argument. He was observed placing ecstasy pills in his pocket at the time.

According to Burns, he had no known medical conditions which might have contributed to his death. He was a good swimmer, in good physical condition and police were able to rule out foul play after autopsy results were known.

Gangl had experienced suicidal thoughts a few years ago, according to a family member, the report says. There was no recent information to indicate Gangl’s suicidal thoughts had returned, but he was in trouble financially, had just argued with friends and had no money to travel to Edmonton, or find accommodation elsewhere.

Toxicology tests indicated Gangl was moderately intoxicated, but with a blood methamphetamine level at or near levels where toxic effects have been known to have occurred. The autopsy also showed Gangl to have been breathing when he went in the water.

In determining the cause of death to be drowning, Burns noted, “a classification of ‘undetermined’ is not a failure to reach a conclusion but instead is a positive finding, reflecting a full investigation and careful consideration of all the available evidence.”

He made no recommendations.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at sarstad@infonews.ca or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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