Coroner identifies man who died after Yukon River rescue

The man recovered from the Yukon River on Friday afternoon has been identified as 25-year-old Caleb Ayles from Whitehorse.

The man recovered from the Yukon River on Friday afternoon has been identified as 25-year-old Caleb Ayles from Whitehorse.

According to the Yukon Coroners Service he died “despite vigorous resuscitative efforts” at Whitehorse General Hospital around 4 p.m.

Eyewitness Mike Tribes said he was rollerblading along the Millennium Trail past the Yukon government building around noon that day when he saw something floating.

“So I skated ahead to get a better look and it was a person treading water. I called out to him to ask if he needed help.

“He was struggling too far away for us to do anything so I skated ahead to find a place where we could get closer to where he was.”

Tribes said he pulled off his rollerblades and ran into the water on the north end of the wharf near Main Street.

“But then he just kind of went under before I could get close enough. He just vanished.”

There were at least a dozen people looking for the man from the wharf, said Tribes.

A number of people had dialed 911 and the rescue effort came fast.

“Ambulances, RCMP officers and helicopters were on scene in a matter of minutes.”

“Scott McDougall, the owner of Kanoe People, was out on the water along with a police boat,” Tribes said.

The RCMP say they received a call just after 12 p.m. from a resident who saw a young man entering the water under the Riverdale bridge. Officers searched the area but could not find him.

Just after 1:30 p.m. the RCMP recovered an unconscious man further down the Yukon River next to the Wal-Mart and he was rushed to hospital.

“We really tried to rescue him– he wasn’t that far from where we were. If he would have been able to swim for just a little longer,” Tribes said.

“But the water was so cold.

“I think he just gave out.”

It is unclear why Ayles walked into the river. A toxicology report is pending.

Contact Lauren Kaljur at

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