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Tragic kayaking incident claims life on Cheakamus River in Squamish

Resources available for those affected. 
Cheakamus River.

It was a tragic weekend on the water in Squamish.

Sea to Sky RCMP have confirmed the death of a kayaker on the Cheakamus River on Saturday, Sept. 16.

Mounties responded to a call at approximately 12:30 p.m. of an adult male kayaker stuck and unresponsive on the river.

Members of the Sea to Sky RCMP, Squamish Fire Rescue, BC Ambulance Service and Squamish Search and Rescue (SAR) responded to the call, where life-saving efforts on the man were unfortunately unsuccessful.  

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Foul play is not suspected, police said in a news release on Monday.

"Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the male. This is a tragic incident and victim services are available to assist those affected," said Sgt. Dallas Langley, of the Sea to Sky RCMP. 

Manager of Squamish SAR, B.J. Chute told The Squamish Chief that the incident occurred at the Paradise Valley portion of the river.

SAR responds to incidents in rivers and lakes in the region and within District boundaries in co-operation with Squamish Fire Rescue. 

For ocean incidents in Howe Sound, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 4 Squamish or the Canadian Coast Guard would be tasked. 

In this case on the Cheakamus, the 10 SAR volunteers did not need to go in their boat for the call as others had brought the man out of the water, Chute said. 

He added that while the response in this case was timely, it is a good reminder to the public that bystanders or others who can pitch in and administer first aid or other forms of self-rescue are invaluable in the backcountry. 

He said he continues to be impressed at the number of folks in the backcountry in Squamish who do help until first responders arrive. 

Unrelated to this incident, he encourages anyone who doesn't have it to get their CPR training and other basic life-saving skills.

While the rivers are low right now, Squamish will be getting rain and the rivers will soon rise quite rapidly. In the coming weeks, this will likely be something for recreationalists to keep in mind, he said. 

Chute also noted that while SAR members have a comprehensive Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) program available to help them debrief after a fatality like on Saturday, or any traumatic incident, bystanders to a traumatic event also have resources. They can reach out for support from the RCMP through victim support services: 604- 892-6153.

Police said that since the Sea to Sky RCMP's investigation is ongoing in consultation with the BC Coroners Service, and with respect to the family, no further details about the incident will be released at this time.


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