Divers continue search for missing Waswanipi boater

Divers continue the search for a man involved in a weekend boating accident on the O'Sullivan River near the northern Quebec community of Miquelon, after the body of a fellow passenger was pulled from the water Sunday. One other passenger made it safely to the shore.

One man found dead following weekend boating accident on the O’Sullivan River, another survived

The search continues for a missing man involved in a boating accident near Miquelon, Quebec on Saturday. (Submitted by Matthew Ottereyes)

Divers continue to search for a man involved in a weekend boating accident on the O'Sullivan River near the northern Quebec community of Miquelon, after the body of a fellow passenger was pulled from the water on Sunday. One other passenger made it safely to the shore.

The accident happened in the early morning hours on Saturday after the three men, all from the Cree community of Waswanipi, left in a small boat with a five-horsepower motor upstream on the river, according to Lee-Roy Blacksmith, regional fire marshal for the Cree Nation Government.

"They had motor problems, the motor was kind [of] low on gas," said Blacksmith. "[They were] three heavy men in a small boat."

A team of divers and a helicopter with the Sûreté du Québec, along with several volunteers from the community of Waswanipi, were involved in the search throughout the weekend. A command centre has been set up where Highway 113 crosses the O'Sullivan River.

A team of divers and a helicopter with the Sûreté du Québec, along with several volunteers from the community of Waswanipi, were involved in the search through the weekend. (Submitted by Matthew Ottereyes )

Blacksmith said none of the men were wearing life jackets and likely exceeded the weight the boat could safely carry. All three men held onto the boat after it capsized, but only one of them let go and swam to shore, according to Blacksmith.

"The other two didn't know to swim so they hung on the boat," he said. "They tried to tip the boat but I guess they weren't able to."

Police have met with the survivor after he was sent to hospital in the nearby city of Lebel-sur-Quévillon.

At the end of the day on Sunday, searchers located the body of one of the men below a set of rapids downstream from where the boat had capsized. Blacksmith said Monday's search concentrated in the same area where the man was found.

As the summer boating season gets underway, Blacksmith said he wants to remind people of the importance of having life jackets for everyone travelling on the water. 

"My big message is safety on the boat," he said. "And also to be aware of the size of the boat and to read the message on the boat [about] the max weight of the boat."

Local administration in Waswanipi has postponed a general assembly out of respect for the families involved.

The search is expected to continue on Tuesday.