Rescue crews search for a missing diver in Okanagan Lake at Hot Sands Beach by the William R. Bennett Bridge on Sunday, May 16. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)

Rescue crews search for a missing diver in Okanagan Lake at Hot Sands Beach by the William R. Bennett Bridge on Sunday, May 16. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)

Missing Okanagan Lake diver presumed drowned, recovery efforts continue

Boaters are asked to stay away from the area as crews continue the search

A diver who went missing in Okanagan Lake on Saturday afternoon near Kelowna is presumed to have drowned, according to RCMP.

However, efforts to locate the man’s body continue on Monday (May 17), the third day of the search.

The 52-year-old man was diving with three others on May 15. While his three companions were able to surface, he did not and was subsequently reported missing.

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue (COSAR) manager Duane Tresnich said the Kelowna RCMP dive team is back at the east end of the W. R. Bennett bridge to continue the search for the man.

He urged people to stay from the area as the search continues.

“We know you want to get in the water, but there’s another opening at the end of the bridge; please use that for now,” said Tresnich. “We want to do our job and find this person.”

He reminds people who want to get out on the lake to make sure they’re ready for how cold the water can be during this time of the year.

“Don’t swim beyond your means and if you’re kayaking or paddleboarding, please wear a lifejacket or bring a floatation device with you,” he said.

West Kelowna RCMP said in a statement the man is presumed to have drowned, adding investigators do not believe criminality was involved in the incident. The BC Coroners Service has been notified.

This is one of two water-related incidents this past weekend. An overturned kayak at Mission Creek prompted police response on Sunday evening. Witnesses reported three individuals were walking away from the area, with one of them saying they lost their kayak. Police want to confirm the individual is safe and unharmed.

READ MORE: Search continues for diver who went missing in Okanagan Lake

READ MORE: Overturned kayak in Mission Creek prompts police response

In 2020, the Okanagan saw seven drowning incidents, including the death of a Lower Mainland man on Father’s Day when he jumped in at Mill Creek to save his daughter after she fell in.

Lifesaving Society of B.C. and Yukon executive director Dale Miller urged people to be more mindful of the situation before they get in the water.

“Know the water you’re going into, the depth of it, if there are rocks or logs underneath the surface, and know your own limits and don’t stretch them,” he said in a previous interview with Black Press Media.


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