OKANAGAN - With two more deaths on Okanagan Lake recently confirmed, the B.C. Coroners Service says the incidence of drownings this year remains elevated.
After releasing an advisory earlier this summer, coroners service spokesperson Barb McLintock says they're reminding the public once more about water safety.
"Last year there was a significant increase of drownings and this year we seem to be staying with the high numbers," McLintock says. That includes three men men who died in the B.C. Interior over the past weekend.
Mervyn Reinson, 66, of Langley was boating on Okanagan Lake Aug. 16. He was found beneath the water near the Kelowna Yacht Club. He was rescued and taken to Kelowna General Hospital, but later died.
Mitesh Gounder, 23, of Surrey was enjoying an afternoon with a friend in a rented boat on Okanagan Lake Aug. 18. He went into the water for a last swim at about 6:45 p.m. and started having trouble in the water. Rescue efforts were unsuccessful and emergency services were called. He was spotted by an RCMP helicopter the next day and his body was recovered.
Randolph Lundblad, 73, of Kaslo dove into Mirror Lake and soon began struggling in the water. Witnesses were unable to rescue him and he died at the scene. The families of all three men have been notified.
While July and August tend to be peak months for drownings, McLintock says last weekend's tragedies are worrisome.
There are no obvious trends to link the incidents together and only until the investigations are complete can they determine factors that contributed to the deaths.
But what is clear is the factor of exposure, McLintock says. With ideal summer weather people are spending more time on the water, swimming, fishing and boating for example.
"We had a really nice summer that started really early," she says.
As of July 30 there has been a total of 45 drownings in the province this year, 17 of those in the Interior, not including the three recent deaths.
"Because we have more lakes than anywhere else, we usually have a third of the province's drownings," McLintock says.
Last year 26 of the 83 drownings in the province also occurred in the Interior.
"Most of them are preventable," McLintock says. Avoid the water if you're too fatigued, have been drinking alcohol or if you don't have life jacket for boating.
As summer weather continues, the public should take extra caution when engaging in recreational activities.
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