MONTREAL -- A little girl drowned on Friday morning after being swept away in the Rouge River. A few hours later searchers found the body of her father, who jumped in to try to save her. 

The river where the tragedy happened is in the La Conception area in the Laurentians, about two and a half hours northwest of Montreal.

A six-year-old boy, the girl's older brother, witnessed the whole incident and managed to alert authorities, said the Surete du Québec.

The provincial police force said the 44-year-old father and his two children, aged four and six, were swimming in the Rouge River, near Amarantes St. The area has a campground with a small beach along the river. 

The four-year-old began struggling, police said, and the man then tried to save her. But he was pulled under the water and carried away by the current at around 10 a.m.

The police said citizens were helping authorities search the area. A little before noon, a civilian found the girl's inert body on a bank of the river.

The child was transported to a hospital centre and pronounced dead.

Police continued to search for the father with boats, a helicopter and foot patrols along the river's shore. 

Searchers in the helicopter spotted his body at about 3 p.m., said police spokesperson Valerie Beauchamp. His body was taken to hospital in Ste. Agathe to have his death confirmed by the coroner, she said.

This summer has brought an alarming spike in drownings in Quebec -- more than 60 people have already lost their lives this way so far this year, significantly more than in the last two years.

Quebec has also seen a bigger increase in drownings than other Canadian provinces have seen. The jump in drownings inspired the provincial government to invest more in swimming lessons.

Water safety experts have pleaded with people to wear life jackets at all times when boating and also to take precautions when swimming.

  --With files from The Canadian Press