Police divers pull two bodies from the water at Oka beach
Published Sunday, May 27, 2012 4:40PM EDT
MONTREAL - Montreal police divers pulled two bodies from the water off Oka beach on Sunday morning, 18 hours after the two men slipped below the waves.
With six friends swimming nearby, Dilpreet Singh, 22, and Dharmeshbai Patel, 19, walked out into the surf on Saturday afternoon. About 150 metres offshore, the shallow floor of the Lake of Two Mountains suddenly dropped two metres.
"The water drops off sharply at that area, it goes from one metre to three metres deep, and the two men unfortunately couldn't swim well," said Sgt. Daniel Thibaudeau, a spokesman for the Surete du Quebec. "They didn't have much of a chance of being saved."
The two bodies were found near where the men drowned at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Witnesses at the beach say that the men may have been drinking, but police are waiting for autopsy results before they can confirm if alcohol was a factor in the drowning.
"About 20 friends and family were on shore and they witnessed this horrific tragedy as well," said Thibaudeau.
While authorities were quickly warned, park officials say that no lifeguards will be stationed at Oka beach until June 2. A series of buoys will also be installed, warning people to not stray too far into the water.
"Swimming activities are not regulated at this time of the year so people who use the park for swimming, hiking and boating do so at their own risk," said Veronique Vermette, speaking for Parks Quebec.
Popular with Montrealers, one drowning took place at Oka beach last year. However the drowning happened at the opposite end of the beach and that person had been intoxicated at the time.
Thibaudeau warned that a drowning can take place in shallow water, especially if people are poor swimmers. The SQ officer had advice for Montrealers over the summer:
"If you don't know how to swim, make sure that you wear a flotation device if you are going into the water. If you are in the water at all, try to abstain from drinking alcohol beverages or other substances that may impair your ability to save yourself."
Because summer came early this year, park officials say that they will discuss changing their practices and perhaps avoid another tragedy in the future.