Body of 20-year-old man suspected of drowning recovered

A 20-year-old man has died while swimming at Britannia Beach, the second drowning in the Ottawa River through Ottawa this weekend.

The Ottawa Police Service Marine, Dive and Trails Units, as well as frontline officers, were called in just after 8:00p.m. Saturday night on reports of a possible drowning.

Ottawa Police say the man was with a group of people who were swimming in the Ottawa River at Britannia Beach in Ottawa's west-end. Police add members of the group saw the man go underwater and not resurface.  

A search was conducted into the early morning hours by boat and foot involving members of the Ottawa Police, Ottawa Paramedics, and Ottawa Fire.

The man’s body was recovered at around 1:40a.m Sunday morning. The victim’s name is being withheld pending notification of his next of kin.

Police say the West Criminal Investigations Unit will be conducting an investigation to determine what happened. They also say Victims Crisis Unit counselors are assisting with witnesses.

Britannia Beach is closed for the summer for dredging work and there are no lifeguards on duty. 

Sunday afternoon people could still be seen by the shore. Experts say it’s a common occurrence right across the country.

“I worry this year with the hot weather, the pent-up feelings with the pandemic and limited places to swim where life guards are supervising, because the safest place to swim is where a lifeguard is,” said Barbara Byers, the public education director for the Lifesaving Society.

“That means that for many, especially if they’re non-swimmers, they may be going to lakes, oceans, and rivers where there are no lifeguards. And if the parents aren’t strong swimmers and the children aren’t strong swimmers, unfortunately it could be a very bad scenario for drowning this summer.”

This is the second such incident this weekend. The search continued on Sunday for the body of a 14-year-old boy who was presumed to have drowned in the Ottawa River after jumping from the Prince of Wales Bridge Friday night with a group of friends.