The search continued on Sunday for a 14-year-old boy missing and presumed dead after he jumped into the Ottawa River while with a group of youths on a popular bridge.
Ottawa Police say the boy didn't resurface after jumping off the Prince of Wales Bridge into the Ottawa River around 9:20 p.m. Friday. On Saturday afternoon, police told CTV News Ottawa the operation had shifted from a rescue operation to a recovery operation, and investigators are now presuming the boy had drowned.
"Our marine dive and trail team are still in the water patrolling the east side of the river, Rideau Falls up until the Blair Road boat launch," said Insp. Francois D'Aoust about the search along the river east of the Prince of Wales Bridge.
In a statement Saturday morning, police said a group of youths had gathered on the bridge spanning the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Gatineau Friday night, and some were jumping off the bridge into the water.
"A 14-year-old male member of this group jumped off the bridge and did not surface," police said.
The Ottawa Police Marine, Dive and Trails Unit, as well as frontline officers and members of Ottawa Fire, Ottawa Paramedics, Gatineau Police and Gatineau Fire searched the area Friday night, and resumed the search on Saturday. A drone was used to assist with the search for the boy.
The boy's family has been advised of the incident, police said, and counsellors have been made available to them and the boy's friends. The boy has not been identified.
The incident on a warm summer's evening is prompting an important reminder from drowning prevention experts on how quickly things can change while swimming.
"Drowning can happen in an instant, in a few seconds, and even strong swimmers can drown," said Sean Duffy of the Life Saving Society.
"It’s very important to check the environment for hazards, to know your limits, to enter the water feet first and understand the depth before jumping from any particular height."
In September 2016, the City of Ottawa built fences along the Prince of Wales rail bridge to stop trespassers from accessing the popular spot. Hours after the fence was installed to block off the entrance, the chain link fence was pushed off its hinges. Transport Canada had ordered the city to block off the bridge.
The Ottawa Police Central Criminal Investigations Unit will be conducting an investigation into the drowning.