Boy in fatal canoeing accident was not wearing life jacket, say witnesses

The three-year-old boy who survived a fatal canoe accident on a lake north of Kingston this weekend was not wearing a life jacket, according to people who live near where two men drowned Saturday evening.

2 men died Saturday afetr canoe capsized on Bob's Lake north of Kingston

Boy who survived canoeing accident had no life jacket, say neighbours

7 years ago
Duration 2:13
Residents on Bob's Lake north of Kingston say a three-year-old toddler who survived a canoe accident that killed two men - including his father - was not wearing a life jacket.

A three-year-old boy who survived a fatal canoeing accident Saturday evening north of Kingston, Ont., was not wearing a life jacket, cottagers who live nearby said Monday.

The boy was pulled from Bob's Lake, off Mica Point Lane in the Township of South Frontenac, at around 8:45 p.m. after he and two adults fell out of their canoe.

Two men on board, 29-year-old Justin Thomas Butts and 23-year-old Daniel MacDonald, both of Kingston, drowned in the accident. Butts was the boy's father.

Beth Schnurr, who lives near the lake, said the canoe capsized no more than 50 metres from the shore, in water about two to 2.5 metres deep.

Beth Schnurr's neighbours rescued a three-year-old boy who survived a fatal canoe accident Saturday night north of Kingston, Ont. (Simon Gardiner/CBC)

Schnurr said her neighbours rescued the boy, who was not wearing a life jacket but rather a bathing suit with flotation devices sewn into it. The Ontario Provincial Police had previously said the boy had a life jacket on.

"Apparently he was blue. He coughed up some water and he started to cry, but he didn't require resuscitation," said Schurr.

Had just caught fish

The men had just caught a fish and were standing up to celebrate when all three fell out of the boat, said Donna Young, the wife of one of the neighbours who came to the rescue.

While the boy was rescued, the men slipped under the water and were found dead Sunday by an OPP underwater search and recovery unit at about 1 p.m.

Schnurr said cottagers on that stretch of the lake, about 70 kilometres north of Kingston, are still in shock over the accident.

"Doesn't matter how experienced you are, how close to shore you are," she said. "Doesn't happen often [but] it's a good reminder it's important to wear a life jacket."

Data shows that most people who drown while boating aren't wearing life jackets, said Barbara Byers, public education director with the Life Saving Society.

The number is especially high for male drowning victims between the ages of 20 to 34, of whom nearly 90 per cent were not wearing preservers when they died, Byers added.