Notable increase in drownings across Alberta: RCMP

Sidrah Mubashir was at Wizard Lake, Alta., about 70 kilometres south of Edmonton with her three children and husband on July 14.

It’s a lake the Edmonton family goes to often.

This time ended in tragedy.

Her nine-year-old son saw his little brother struggling in the water and he went to help. Then, he began struggling.

Read more: Man drowns at Wizard Lake as Alberta RCMP issue warning about water safety

Their dad, Mubashir Ali, 49, went in the water to rescue them. He was able to get his two boys out.

“When my husband saw the kids, he actually went to save them. He actually pulled them out, and there was a lady who took my kids out,” Mubashir said.

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“My husband was not able to save himself.”

Mubashir said her husband didn’t know how to swim, and her kids haven’t been in swimming lessons, but she believed they were in a safe area — a spot they have played in before.

She said her son told her he experienced a force pushing him down, and RCMP told her there was a water current.

“He drowned in a safe area, and he was not even outside of the safe zone,” Mubashir said.

“I am actually just trying to live without him now. I know he is gone, so we are just trying to accept this reality.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family. It has raised more than $88,000 as of Monday afternoon.

“I wasn’t expecting that much support but I am really grateful,” Mubashir said.

Read more: RCMP recover body of Calgary man who went missing in Chestermere Lake

There have been more than 20 drownings in the province this year. Five happened between July 25 and 30.

RCMP said this appears to be a notable increase from previous years, and it’s difficult to pinpoint if there is a reason.

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Each of these drownings has different circumstances; it is happening in both lakes and rivers, and there have been drownings all over the province.

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Canadian Red Cross safety ambassador Dominique MacDonald said in open bodies of water, people are faced with multiple challenges like currents, wind and debris. Even cold water temperatures can put people at risk.

“The water has so many inherent dangers to it before we even get in, so when we are going to do activities around that space and environment, we need to be prepared,” MacDonald said.

She stressed that in most drownings, people are not wearing a floatation device.

“The biggest message with lakes and open water is to wear those safety devices when you are in, on or around the water,” MacDonald said.

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“It gives you a chance of survival.”

Read more: Alberta mom grateful after 11-year-old rescues her 5-year-old from pond: ‘He’s my angel’

MacDonald explained that when people are drowning, it doesn’t look like what happens in movies. It’s often silent.

“Children and adults will have differences in what it looks like. Oftentimes, we see a child just go limp and they are going to sink to the bottom, and that is because they are waiting for someone to pick them up,” MacDonald said.

“Someone who is drowning may not face the shore. They may not be able to face a point of safety because they can’t even navigate themselves by turning around and the arm actions will be inefficient.”

“If you can see their face, it says panic.”

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Concerns raised after Chestermere drowning

On July 26, Shaun Miles was at Chestermere Lake, Alta., about 30 kilometres east of Calgary, when he heard someone call for help.

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“We looked around scanned the scene. No one was splashing in the water. There was no sense of panic on the beach,” Miles said.

Read more: Ontario man drowns in Alberta lake during Ironman triathlon

He went back to getting his spot set up, and he heard a cry for help again.

“There were two guys watching one guy in the water… I jumped in the water and started to swim out there. It was a little ways past the safety perimeter,” Miles said.

“As I was swimming, I thought I wasn’t going to make it at one point. I thought I was caught in the net.

“I looked back, and I had so many reeds wrapped around my leg. I had to take time to untangle myself before I could continue swimming out there.”

Miles said he kept getting caught. He said he gave a donut floaty to help the struggling man. He was then told another man went into the water and didn’t resurface.

“We looked around quickly but the water is so dark, you can’t really see much underwater,” Miles said.

Miles pulled one man to shore.

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Rescuers found the body of a 47-year-old man a day later.

Read more: Body of Edmonton man found in Wabamum Lake

RCMP told Global News they responded to drownings in Chestermere Lake, the Bow River near Cochrane, Red Cliff River Valley Park and Evansburg at Summer Village of South View Lake Isles.

Read more: Edmonton rescue crews search for missing swimmer

In Edmonton, rescuers searched for a swimmer who went under the water and disappeared. The search started Saturday and continued during the weekend.

A man drowned during the Ironman triathlon near Calgary on Sunday.

“Each of those situations are now this whole community of people that have been affected by this tragedy,” MacDonald said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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