Nova Scotia

Man drowns at waterfall near Tatamagouche that's been site of other tragedies

A 38-year-old man from Three Fathom Harbour, N.S., had been swimming with his family at Drysdale Falls when he went under the surface and did not come back up, according to RCMP.

38-year-old swimming with family at Drysdale Falls when he went under surface

The scene may look idyllic, but people are regularly injured swimming, falling or jumping at Drysdale Falls in Colchester County. (Kylie LeBlanc/Facebook)

A 38-year-old man has drowned at a waterfall south of Tatamagouche, N.S., that has been the site of several tragedies over the years.

The man, who was from Three Fathom Harbour, N.S., was swimming Tuesday afternoon with his family at Drysdale Falls when he went under the surface and did not come back up, according to RCMP.

A member of his family tried to save him but was not able to help.

The emergency call came in around 4:30 p.m. Members of the Bible Hill Fire Department's special hazards response unit were able to rescue two members of the family. The team later recovered the man's body.

The investigation into his death continues.

Notorious spot

The 16-metre falls are steep and located in a remote area. 

In 2017, a 17-year-old boy suffered serious injuries when he jumped from the falls. Rescuers had to carry him out to a helicopter that took him to hospital.

In June 2007, a man from Oxford, N.S., drowned at the site while swimming with friends and family.

It was after that incident that Tatamagouche's fire chief attended a meeting with the Transportation Department, police and the local MLA, Karen Casey, to discuss solutions to the problem of people hiking into the site and being injured.

The falls are located on private property and the owners were also concerned about safety. 

Brittany Chapman, who lives a few minutes outside of Tatamagouche and whose uncle is a local firefighter, appealed to people online Wednesday morning to be more careful at the dangerous spot.

"My concern is people not realizing the danger because it is an ongoing thing," she said in an interview.

She said the property owners have put up signs warning of the danger the falls pose, but people don't always heed them.

1st responders risking their lives

Chapman said first responders are also putting their lives on the line, attempting to rescue people from the pool under the falls.

"My uncle goes in almost once or twice a year just to save someone that's injured or even rescue someone that's in the hole and can't get out," she said.

"It's hard for them to get in there and to rescue people and get their equipment in." 

Chapman said last year one of her friends was at the top of the falls horsing around with some others when he was pushed. He ended up with two broken ribs and a broken leg caused by hitting the water from such a height. 

"There's just no room for error," she said.

Chapman hopes her online appeal will get the message out to prevent another tragedy. 

"It's probably not going to be the last. Which is pretty sad but all I can do is try," she said.