A 7-year-old boy is dead despite frantic efforts to save his life after he was pulled from the waters of the McLeod River on Thursday afternoon.

Emergency crews and the Whitecourt Fire Department were called at 4:30 p.m. about a possible drowning near a recreation area on the river, RCMP said in a news release Friday. 

Upon arrival, they found the boy in medical distress. STARS Air Ambulance was called at about 5 p.m.

Paramedics rushed the boy to the airport to rendezvous with the air medevac crew. But by the time air ambulance arrived at 6 p.m., it was too late.

Despite attempts to revive the boy, he was pronounced dead by the STARS physician, police said. 

"He didn't make it that far," RCMP Cpl. Chris Warren said, his voice breaking with emotion. "In their assessment, they realized unfortunately there was nothing more that could be done." 

The boy's family was visiting from out of town, and they were playing and swimming on the water at the time of the incident, said Warren. 

"There is nothing to suggest that this was anything other than a tragedy," he said.

Out of respect for the family, the boy's name is not being released by RCMP. 

"The RCMP would like to express their condolences to the family during this difficult time," police said in their release. "Our thoughts are with the family and the community at this time of need."

The town of Whitecourt is about 175 km northwest of Edmonton.