A rescue official says two men found dead in Kalamalka Lake, south of Vernon, on Wednesday were wearing life-jackets that didn't fit properly.

Police and a search team were called in yesterday morning after a resident noticed a cooler and a dog in the water. Police found the bodies along with an overturned aluminum boat.

kamalka lake

The men, who were in their 50s, were out on a two-day camping trip and were due to return Tuesday afternoon, said according to police.

Search manager Leigh Pearson says the men were wearing life-jackets, but the floatation devices weren't fitted tightly enough to keep their heads and faces above water.

"Unfortunately they were very poorly fitted life-jackets, which is almost as bad as not having a life-jacket at all," Pearson said.

"They were way, way too big ...  the person would just literally float out of the jacket. The jacket would stay on the surface, but the person would just slide out from under it. When we found them... their heads were completely below water."

Pearson says life-jackets must be adjusted and properly fitted to each individual to be effective.

He also said the boat was weighed down with too many things.

"Overloaded. Two people and a dog plus some camping gear," he said. "The boat was just not made to carry that much of a load."

Life-jacket safety tips

Water safety experts estimate more than half of the people on the water are not wearing properly fitted floatation devices. Shannon Ward, a spokeswoman for B.C.-based Mustang Survival, shared the following tips for fitting a life-jacket properly.

  1. Try it on and do up the zipper.
  2. Tighten up all the webbing.
  3. Make sure the buckles are done up.
  4. Slide two or three fingers underneath the jacket's shoulders

"If you can fit two or three fingers in there, that's okay," Ward said. "But if it begins to go beyond that, then it's probably not going to work the way it is supposed to."

 

With files from CBC's Jaimie Kehler and Belle Puri