Nova Scotia

1 man dead, 1 seriously injured after falling into water off Peggys Cove

A Nova Scotia man has died and a man from Ontario has life-threatening injuries after they were swept into the water off Peggys Cove, N.S., on Monday evening.

Local councillor says the two men were brothers

A helicopter and flares are seen lighting up the area of Peggys Cove, N.S., after two men fell into the water Monday evening. (Submitted by Deirdre Green)

A man has died and another has life-threatening injuries after they were swept into the water off Peggys Cove, N.S., on Monday evening.

Police, the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre, the coast guard, fire crews and paramedics responded to a call around 8:30 p.m. AT about two people in distress in the water in the tiny fishing village and popular tourist site outside Halifax.

RCMP said Tuesday the man who died was a 23-year-old from Dartmouth, N.S., while the injured man is a 26-year-old from Ontario.

Halifax District RCMP spokesperson Const. Guillaume Tremblay said the initial investigation has revealed that the two men were swept into the water by a wave.

Crews searched in the darkness for the two men.

The Ontario man was located by fire crews near the shoreline and rescued at 8:55 p.m. He was transported to hospital by ambulance.

Crews aboard a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter, a Hercules aircraft, the Canadian Coast Guard Cutter Hare Bay, the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Earl Grey, the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary Angel 6, fire boats and fishing boats searched for the Dartmouth man until 9:40 p.m., when he was found in the ocean.

He was pulled aboard the Hare Bay, then hoisted onto the Cormorant helicopter, which transported him to 12 Wing Shearwater while search and rescue staff performed first aid. He was pronounced dead at Shearwater.

The medical examiner's office is investigating the incident.

A lighthouse sits on a rocky hill.
The lighthouses and rocks at Peggys Cove draw thousands of tourists each year. The location is also the most common site of drowning deaths in Nova Scotia over the years. (The Canadian Press)

During a Halifax regional council meeting on Tuesday, Coun. Pam Lovelace said the two men were brothers.

"Our hearts and thoughts go out to that family," said Lovelace, who represents the district of Hammonds Plains-St. Margarets. "We wanted to let them know that we're thinking of them."

Easily one of Atlantic Canada's most recognizable landmarks, the rocks that surround the red and white lighthouse at Peggys Cove can be treacherous.

There are numerous signs at the site warning onlookers to stay off the black rocks, which become slippery when wet. 

In May 2016, a woman from Quebec drowned at the tourist destination, located roughly 45 kilometres southwest of Halifax.

The year prior, 25-year-old Jamie Quattrocchi from Ontario died when he was swept into the ocean.

A new viewing deck was unveiled last fall, designed to improve access to the site and discourage sightseers from venturing onto the wave-washed rocks.

Most common location of N.S. drownings

Paul D'Eon, the special projects director of the Lifesaving Society of Nova Scotia, said the group has been tracking drowning deaths in the province since the 1970s, and Peggys Cove is the location with the most drownings in Nova Scotia over the years.

He is working with a group looking at ways to try to eliminate drowning deaths at the site using "audio and website interventions" and creative signage.

"Right now, I think there are over 40 signs indicating people to … use extreme caution, to stay off the rocks and to watch out, and despite those interventions, there are still certainly tragedies that occur."

D'Eon urged people to remember the danger that comes along with the beauty of the ocean.

"The North Atlantic is very powerful, and when you're on or near the water, you really need to pay attention and keep yourself safe out there."

With files from Frances Willick and Brooklyn Currie

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