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Police rescue nine people from Georgian Bay in two days

Most of those rescued were not wearing lifejackets, police say
2020-04-01 OPP stock
File photo

Members from both the Collingwood and Huronia West Detachments of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have been busy with their joint marine patrol in the waters of Georgian Bay. They have rescued nine people in four separate incidents in the last two days.

On Thursday, June 30, seven of these people were rescued from the waters in a two-hour window.

At approximately 1:30 p.m., while on general patrol, officers observed three adult female paddleboarders waving for help approximately 2 km out from the shores of Wasaga Beach. Only one of them had a lifejacket, and they had two paddleboards between the three of them. They were quickly blown out from shore, and found themselves in distress and unable to get back.

At 2:15 p.m., officers received a call for service in the waters in the area of Beachwood Road. Two children, the ages of 12 and 13, were being blown out into the bay on a foam mat toy. Neither child was wearing a lifejacket. While en route to assist, police located one child in the water in distress attempting to swim back to shore. The other child was located on the toy mat. Both children were extremely cold and scared.

At 3:30 p.m., two adult males were reported to be in distress after the inflatable toy they were on was blown into the bay from Northwinds Beach in the Town of Blue Mountains. The OPP Marine Unit along with the Canadian Coast Guard co-ordinated their efforts and were able to rescue the pair, who were also not wearing lifejackets.

On Friday July, 1, at 12:19 p.m., police received a call for two adult females who had been blown out into the bay from Wasaga Beach on a large pink flamingo toy. Neither female was wearing a lifejacket and both were non-swimmers.

Police would like to remind the public of the hazards involved with using inflatable toys, paddleboards and other water based equipment. Here are a few important tips:

  • Always wear a lifejacket. Know your limitations. Set a good example for your children. Lifejackets are available to borrow free of charge from any Ontario Parks gate house or office at Wasaga Beach.
  • Check the weather and wind conditions. Offshore winds blow from the land towards the water. Conditions may appear smooth near the shoreline, but deteriorate the further you go out.
  • Don't mix alcohol or drugs with water activities.
  • Avoid distractions. Stay off your cellphone.

Inflatable toys are not a lifesaving device and provide a false sense of security. They should never replace a lifejacket or adult supervision.

The OPP would also like to remind beach goers to secure their inflatable toys when not in use. If they are blown into the water or abandoned, others may think someone is stranded or is missing. This causes unnecessary search efforts to begin.

The OPP plays a role in preventing drownings through proactive patrols of 110,398 square kilometres of waterways. The OPP combines its law enforcement efforts with public education in order to improve both marine and water safety. An essential part of the enforcement job is to save lives and reduce injuries on our waterways.