Tragic death notices are one of the worst things faced by police

To the Expositor:

Recently I sat down to face my computer screen to read incident notifications. It’s something I do everyday and it is not an easy task since many of the notifications detail someone’s death. Most often it is a fatal car crash or the natural death of an elderly person. It could be an industrial accident or less frequently, the loss of life in an act of violence. But this morning, it was the drowning death of yet another child—a toddler barely old enough to walk. The day before, a young boy drowned. Sadly, similar tragic circumstances for both—a moment’s inattention—it all happens so quickly.

I feel deeply for the families and my heartfelt sympathy goes out to all. I know how difficult these calls are for police officers and emergency personal. Bystanders who witness the tragedy and communities as a whole are left traumatized.

Hot weather, water and kids—a day at the beach or poolside should be fun summer memories in the making. I can only urge parents and caregivers to be vigilant in and around water. Focus on the children’s activity and don’t let distraction catch you off guard. Lifejackets for non-swimmers are a safety measure that does not reduce the need for strict supervision.

When in and around the water, lead by example—always consider safety first.

A recent death by misadventure and a leap from a cliff saw a young man drown. This week past weekend a wake jumping personal watercraft crash into a boatload of family members saw the boat driver ejected and injured.

Fishermen fall overboard unexpectedly while fishing alone—without a PFD it’s often with deadly results.

Recently, the true measure of the value of wearing a life jacket while boating was strongly demonstrated when three people were left floating in Lake Superior for three hours after their boat sank. Had they not been wearing a life vest it might have been them in my death notifications.

There is no one single cause that leads to drowning but there are common contributors. Basic safety practices such as learning to swim at an early age; wearing a lifejacket or a PFD while on a vessel; adult supervision of children while swimming; and not drinking and boating can make the difference between surviving, or not.

Inspector Mark Andrews

Ontario Provincial Police

North East Region

Traffic and Marine Unit