Drowning ruled accidental

The death of a Whitehorse teenager last month has been ruled accidental. Nicholas Close-Silverfox died on July 11 after drowning in the Yukon River. He was 19.

The death of a Whitehorse teenager last month has been ruled accidental.

Nicholas Close-Silverfox died on July 11 after drowning in the Yukon River. He was 19.

The Yukon’s coroner’s service released its report into the death earlier this month.

Close-Silverfox and two women were walking his dog along the Millennium Trail on the evening of July 11. Close-Silverfox threw a stick for his dog. The dog entered the river but was overcome by the fast current. The group was near the pumphouse on Nisutlin Drive. The water in this area is deceptively calm, the coroner’s report notes.

Close-Silverfox jumped in, hoping to save the animal. But he too became caught in the current. One of his friends waded in and tried to reach Close-Silverfox with a stick he could grab. But the water pulled Close-Silverfox under.

Police and emergency medical responders were called to the scene. A police officer pulled Close-Silverfox from the river. CPR was performed on the teen. He was taken to Whitehorse General Hospital and pronounced dead after more CPR was performed.

The dog survived.

At the time of his death, Close-Silverfox had a blood alcohol level of 0.12, the coroner’s report says. The legal limit for driving is 0.08. People with a blood alcohol level of 0.12 can experience delays in reaction time, impaired motor skills, poor concentration and judgement. But it’s impossible to say how much of a factor it was in his death, the report says.

There were no recommendations included in the report. But unless people pay more attention to warning signs along the Yukon River, more people will die because of the strong currents and undertow in this area, the report says.

In 2007, a 45-year-old man drowned near the same area. And a 23-year-old woman drowned in the Yukon River near the Millennium Trail in 2004.

(Meagan Gillmore)