Quebec’s waters have claimed two new victims in less than 24 hours, bringing the total to 11 drowning-related deaths since the beginning of the year as daylight saving time is just beginning.
• Also read: Drowning in Gaspésie: A fisherman dies after falling into the water
• Also read: Saguenay: A woman is killed in a fall in the Moulin River
• Also read: Be careful on the rivers, inform the authorities
Raynald Young has been an avid fisherman for decades and was with his brother in a boat on the lake at Béliveau, near Sainte-Thérèse-de-Gaspé in Gaspésie, when the tragedy struck on Thursday afternoon.
While a catch was taking the bait, the 59-year-old would have had to take a hard hit to retrieve the fish, says the municipality’s mayor, Roberto Blondin, who has known the victim for several years.
“The boat capsized, he fell into the water with his brother. He was the one who first tried to save him, but he couldn’t. They weren’t wearing life jackets,” he said.
The owner of a nearby shack heard the calls for help and contacted the authorities, to no avail. Mr. Young was pronounced dead at the hospital a few hours later.
A poorly fastened jacket
A similar situation occurred a few hours later at around 19:30 in the Laterrière sector in Saguenay.
Marie-Ève Talon was paddling down the Rivière du Moulin with a group of friends before she lost her footing and sank in the creek.
“The rope attached to the board got caught on a branch. There she capsized and got stuck under water,” said Jean-Rock Bonneau, the victim’s father-in-law.
According to Saguenay police, the 34-year-old woman was wearing a flotation device, but it was not attached. The equipment had therefore “detached from the body” when the victim fell into the water.
She was in critical condition at Chicoutimi Hospital before she breathed her last this morning.
Fatal thermal shock
Either way, wearing a life jacket properly could have saved her life, says Raynald Hawkins of the Lifesaving Society of Quebec.
“Nine times out of ten, the victims were not wearing their life jackets. We cannot stress its importance enough, especially at this time of year,” he says.
The current very low water temperature in Quebec can quickly lead to a temperature shock, then to hyperventilation, unconsciousness and drowning, specifies the organization’s executive director.
So far this year, 11 people have drowned in the province, compared to 14 at the same time last year. But several were rescued in extreme cases, Mr Hawkins points out.