19-year-old Whitehorse man drowns in Yukon River

Nicholas Close-Silverfox, 19, drowned in the Yukon River Thursday evening when he jumped into the river to rescue a dog.

Jumped into water to try to rescue a dog

A Whitehorse man drowned in the Yukon River Thursday evening trying to rescue his dog. (CBC)

A Whitehorse man drowned in the Yukon River Thursday evening trying to rescue his dog.

Nicholas Close-Silverfox, 19, was walking with friends on the Millennium Trail in Riverdale near the pumphouse. He jumped into the river to try to get the dog.

Close-Silverfox's friends tried to reach him, but he was swept away in the current.

An RCMP officer who responded to the scene put on a personal flotation device and entered the river near the area where the victim was reported to have gone in.

The officer was able to recover the victim, pulling him from the water with the assistance of a second officer.

Once on shore, the two began to administer CPR until the arrival of Whitehorse paramedics and the fire department.

Close-Silverfox was transported to Whitehorse General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The dog swam back to shore.

Dave Dowie, a platoon chief with the fire department, said the Yukon River through Whitehorse is very dangerous.

"There are a lot of undertows and undercurrents in the water, people have to be very careful and cautious," he said.

"It's very deceiving and the speed of the river is very deceiving and you can get into trouble very quickly. And the water is very cold, it doesn't take long for you to lose motor skills in the cold water."

Two weeks ago, another 19-year-old man narrowly escaped drowning at Miles Canyon after he too jumped in after his dog. He was rescued by a canoeist.

Jim Lavalley with Rescue Canada has taught river rescue in Whitehorse for 20 years. He said young males are at high risk of drowning.  

"Certainly it's the cold water initially and then it's going to drain their energy," he said.

"They have no flotation, they have no body fat, so this is typically who's in trouble — males in that age group, no body fat, and what we call the lack of situational awareness." 

Lavalley warned the river will always result in hypothermia.

"If you go into this water without a lifejacket on, you're very likely to die," he said.

Lavalley noted dogs most always are better swimmers than people, and no one should risk going into cold moving water.

The coroner said Close-Silverfox lived in Whitehorse and has family in Dawson City.

The Yukon coroner's office says an autopsy will not be required.