NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Don’t go near the water: that’s what first responders in North Vancouver are warning people to do after a man in his 30s died over the weekend after getting swept away by the powerful current at Capilano River.
The man was fishing with some friends when he stepped into the water a few steps to untangle some fishing gear. It looks as though he may have slipped and was carried away into the freezing rapids.
North Vancouver RCMP Sergeant Peter DeVries says, if you fall in and whether or not you’re wearing a life jacket, it’s going to be really hard to get you out or have crews get you out because of the debris and drop-offs.
Happening now: we are out on #capilano river imploring people #fishing to wear a #lifejacket. One man died earlier this week when he was swept into the river. The current is extremely powerful and the water is ice cold. https://t.co/Wa6sKOMhEx#NorthVan #Vancouver #RCMP #capilano pic.twitter.com/jRh3ocShya
— North Vancouver RCMP (@nvanrcmp) October 29, 2019
DeVries explains being on land is as dangerous as being in the water right now.
“It’s not just because of the fast flowing water, it’s because of the drop-offs and things like the branches and logs people can get trapped under and on top of that the water is cold. It’s extremely cold. Within just a few minutes, you can really lose your ability to move and properly rescue yourself.”
He adds it’s a popular time to go fishing right now and that should have people on high alert.
“Fishing in the rivers on the North Shore is popular, it’s not just the Capilano River — there are other areas where people are fishing. We want to use this as an opportunity just to encourage people to wear life jackets. The river is actually quite a dangerous place especially if you’re wading into the water or going partially in the water, I think some people probably don’t understand how strong the current actually is and they should really be wearing a life jacket if they’re down by the river fishing.”
You would think it’s common sense to be wearing a life jacket in the water, but DeVries says the beautiful, sunny weather we’ve had lately, has likely made some people think the current conditions are safe.
“I don’t think it’s part of the culture of fishing by the river, at least it doesn’t seem […] there are very few people who are wearing a life jacket down by the river and what happened a couple of days ago with that young man dying, it should give us cause to stop and give a second thought to making sure we’re wearing life jackets when we’re down by the river,” he says.
“These rivers are deep, the water is very fast-moving and the rocks along the shore are slippery, and I think people assume, because they’re standing on land, you don’t need a life jacket, but it’s really no different from standing on a boat out in the water. If you fall in, you’re going to be in the same situation. If you don’t have a life jacket, it’s actually going to be more dangerous in a river because of the nature of the flowing water: the drop-offs […] and the debris that’s in the water. We’re encouraging people to maybe shift that culture and make wearing life jackets as common place as it is for boating.”
He’s not expecting people to make the change to wearing a life jacket right away, but hopes it happens sooner than later.
“It’s kind of like the shift in thinking with seat belts or the shift in thinking with drinking and driving. It takes times to shift those kinds of habits and it may seem like common sense, more so after the fact when you hear a story of someone who has drowned in these circumstances, then it becomes a little bit more obvious.”
The man who passed away was pulled from the water in critical condition but later passed away. Both the RCMP and the Coroners Service is handling the investigation.