A delayed response to a diver in distress on the St. Lawrence River is raising concerns about 911 calls on area cell phones.

OPP were alerted to an incident on the river in Cardinal, Ont. about 20 minutes after people on the scene called 911 on Tuesday afternoon.

Witnesses said their calls were picked up by an American cell phone tower in New York state, which is just across the river.

By the time Canadian first responders arrived, the 57-year-old man from Brockville had died.

"(Americans) don't know Cardinal, they don't know the region," said Steve Workman, who said he spotted the diver while walking his dogs.

"All this time, this guy could have maybe been saved before this had to be relayed back to Canada," he said.

Cardinal fire chief says it didn’t make much difference

Cardinal’s fire chief Dave Grant said cell technology is sometimes an issue in border communities such as Cardinal, but he doesn’t think a non-delayed response would have made a difference this time.

"I think that really emergency response times from EMS, fire and OPP was relatively quick once we received the call," he said.

"I really don't think that would have changed the outcome in any way, shape or form."

An autopsy will be performed on the victim’s body to determine the cause of death, but police said they don’t suspect foul play.