British Columbia

Third Beach lifeguard patrols to end early after facing 'resistance' during rescue from drum circle crowd

Lifeguards on Third Beach will now end their shift early on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Vancouver Park Board general manager Donnie Rosa says those wishing to swim after that time can go to Second Beach where lifeguards will stay out until 8:30 p.m.

Lifeguards trying to reach an unconscious person were obstructed by the crowd: park board

A group of bicyclists pass a beach, where people are sitting on logs.
Stanley Park's Third Beach has been the site of a weekly drum circle for years. (Christer Waara/CBC)

Lifeguard patrols on Vancouver's Third Beach are ending early on Tuesday nights after an incident during a weekly drum circle event raised safety concerns. 

"Right now, we have numbers at this event that have grown to a point where we found it to be unsafe," Vancouver Park Board general manager Donnie Rosa said. 

Rosa said 4,000 people were at Third Beach on July 12 for the drum circle when lifeguards trying to reach an unconscious person in the water "faced resistance" as they made their way through the crowd. 

"We're still investigating exactly what happened, but what I can tell you is that they were physically impeded as well as verbally accosted."

Rosa said paramedics also had trouble getting through the crowd. 

B.C. Emergency Health Services said three paramedic ground units responded to a call at the north end of Third Beach around 7:25 p.m. on July 12 and transported one patient to hospital in critical condition. BCEHS did not have an update on the patient's condition.

Lifeguards on Third Beach will now end their shift early on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Rosa says those wishing to swim after that time can go to Second Beach, where lifeguards will stay out until 8:30 p.m.

A tweet from the park board warned drum circle attendees of the risks that come with unsupervised swimming. 

Rosa did not say how long the change will remain in place but said the park board is in discussions with police, the fire department, and city protective services about how to manage the unsanctioned event, which has grown in recent months.

"We would love to get people guarded and swimming back at the beach on Tuesday nights, but right now, it's just not something that's a safe setting," Rosa said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon Azpiri is a reporter in Vancouver, B.C.

With files from Jessica Cheung

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