KANANASKIS COUNTRY – Police are continuing to search for the body of a man who drowned while attempting to save a dog at Spray Lakes Sunday (Aug. 7).
Canmore RCMP responded to a call at about 7 p.m. Sunday for a report of a drowning. Police said a Calgary man was fishing with his family and the dog jumped from the boat into the water.
The man tried to get the dog by jumping into the water, but neither resurfaced after submerging, police said.
“It’s a very traumatic incident and being in that remote area there were some delays to get back to shore to get assistance and get emergency services, but an absolutely all hands on deck response,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Singleton, Canmore RCMP detachment commander.
“We have some very good expertise in the area and we’re trying our hardest to reunite this family.”
Singleton said the boat had three people and two animals on board when a young dog jumped into the water followed by the Calgary man to attempt the rescue.
A dive team of 14 people from central Alberta with members from both southern and northern Alberta were on route to the area and are expected to arrive Tuesday afternoon.
Canmore Fire-Rescue, Alberta Fish and Wildlife, Alberta conservation officers and Kananaskis Emergency Services all responded to the area to search for the man and dog.
“Adequate resources are currently in place for the search operation,” police said in a media release. “At this time, Canmore RCMP are asking the public to avoid the south end of Spray Lakes while search efforts continue with the added assistance of the Central Alberta Rescue Diving Society (CARDS).”
Singleton said the investigation is continuing and details aren’t fully known, but it’s important for all boaters to always have lifejackets available.
“This is a very unfortunate incident. We always want people to have lifejackets available for their animals as well as for themselves on board,” he said.
Singleton said the surface water temperature at Spray Lakes can vary from as cold as 5 Celsius to 19 and get colder the deeper someone goes.
“When you’re in cold water like what we experience on our reservoirs or glacier-fed lakes, the body can go into shock pretty quickly and you can take on water,” he said.
The drownings were the second reported this summer at Spray Lakes.
The first saw three people die in a boating accident near Spray Lakes campground on July 10.
A boat with four Calgary men capsized and led to a three-day search for the men.
“This is the fourth drowning [victims] in Spray Lakes this summer, so it’s very concerning to us,” Singleton said. “Some of these are very preventable by wearing proper safety equipment.”