SEEBE – Search and recovery efforts continue near the Seebe Dam for presumed drowning victim Blessing Paul, 16, who was last seen in an area RCMP called a “very dangerous place” to swim.
Approximately 40 volunteers of the victim’s family and emergency personnel were searching the Bow River near Seebe Tuesday (Aug. 11), about 25 kilometres east of Canmore, where two helicopters, a dive team, and boat patrols have been looking for Paul since the weekend.
Police said the Calgary teen attempted to swim across the river between the Seebe Dam and Horseshoe Dam on Saturday afternoon (Aug. 8), but got stuck in the currents and went under and didn’t resurface. He was with a group of friends when the incident occurred, and two individuals jumped in in an attempt to find him, but were unsuccessful.
“The particular area where this happened is an area where we’ve had three people drown since I’ve been a member in Cochrane [since 2008],” said Cochrane RCMP’s Cpl. Troy Savinkoff.
“The water flow in this area is not normal. There’s levies in the water that have the ability to pull people under and the water, although it looks fairly calm on the surface, it’s actually a lot stronger flow than what one would think. It is a very dangerous place.
"Also, rescue efforts are really dangerous in this area due to the nature of the land.”
Savinkoff said Paul wasn’t wearing a life-jacket or wet suit in the glacier-fed waters, which make it more difficult to swim and could be a factor.
The waterway connects the Bow and Kananaskis rivers and is a well-known spot for swimmers in the summer. However, the area is designated private property, owned by TransAlta, and trespassing enforcement is being strongly leaned towards.
Savinkoff said that prior to this incident, discussions have been taking place with multiple organizations about enforcing the no trespassing, private property area, which might include towing vehicles and $250 fines.
“I don’t want to blame him because he’s just a kid and he was with a bunch of kids, but at the same token, this is an area that we have to keep people out of,” he said.