A Whitehorse man drowned near Kelowna last Wednesday after attempting to save his two sons and another boy.
George Matthew Klein, 42, together with a large group of family members, had been enjoying an afternoon at Kokanee Beach Resort, 26 kilometres from Kelowna.
Two of his sons and another boy – all aged between nine and 11 – were swimming in the lake around 2 p.m. when they were caught in an undertow where Vernon Creek empties into the lake.
When the mother saw them suddenly getting carried away by the current, she yelled for help.
Klein dove into the water from the beach deck. Other relatives also jumped in to help.
A short time later, operators of a nearby paddle boat saved the three boys, along with their cousin and grandfather.
But Klein, for reasons that remain unclear, never surfaced.
When about a dozen firefighters arrived at the scene, there were a lot of people in the water, said assistant fire chief Brent Penner.
“There were people crying and screaming and there was an older man sitting on the beach that was exhausted from swimming,” Penner said, describing firefighters’ notes of the incident.
“Almost sounds like the adult (Klein) was in distress in the water, sounds like there was a lot going on as well,” he said. Penner himself was not at the rescue.
Klein may have dived into a shallow area, swallowed water, or become disoriented in the underwater currents, said Penner.
“It may have been, with all the kerfuffle out there, nobody noticed he was swimming. Whether or not he truly did not surface or whether he was not seen I’m not sure. It’s very speculative,” he said.
Volunteers with Vernon Search and Rescue arrived at 3:35 p.m. to recover the body with sonar equipment. It was located at 5:56 p.m. The RCMP dive team arrived at 6:06 p.m., Penner said.
Search and rescue found Klein’s body five metres underwater and 15 metres from the shore, Clark said.
The RCMP and B.C. coroner’s service are still investigating the drowning.
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