'A horrible situation': Man seen swimming in Wascana Lake found dead

Police were called at 7:36 p.m. CST to the north side of the lake after a man was seen in the water.

Police are asking any witnesses to come forward and contact police or Crime Stoppers

A number of people were called to help in the search for the man in Wascana Lake on Thursday evening. (Submitted by Jay Fradette)

Regina police and the Saskatchewan Coroners Service are investigating after a man was found dead in Wascana Lake on Thursday.

Police say they were called at about 7:36 p.m. CST to the north side of Wascana Lake, near the band shell. 

Police say officers were told a man was "swimming" in the lake but people could no longer see him. Officers found clothing and a cell phone on the shore near where the man went into the water. 

The Regina Fire Department, EMS, Provincial Capital Commission — which operates the park — and Regina Police Service Underwater Investigation and Recovery team were all called in to help. 

The search led to finding the man unresponsive under the water. EMS pronounced the man dead at 9:18 p.m. CST. 

Jay Fradette and Roberta Wallace were walking along the north side of the lake when they saw the man. They said he was coming out of the water when they walked by. Wallace said the man was black and looked to be in his 20s or 30s, and fit. She said he stood on the ledge wearing just shorts.

"He was just standing there for a moment and then he jumped back in the water and was just kind of swimming around and like diving underneath the water," Fradette said. 

People watch as the Regina Police Service look for a man who was allegedly seen swimming in Wascana Lake and went under the water. (Submitted by Remi Poitras)

Wallace said they don't know why the man was going into the water. She said perhaps he had lost something and was trying to retrieve it. The two were going to stop but saw others walking by as well as a man who was a similar age on a bench nearby and watching the man. 

The couple doesn't know if the two men were together but since someone was keeping an eye on the man diving into the water, and the man seemed like he could swim very well, they continued on their walk. 

After walking the loop at Wascana Lake, the two came to the Legislature and Albert Street bridge and saw the search and rescue team. At first they thought it was an accident, until they saw the underwater rescue team out on the lake. The two found out the man had died on Friday morning. 

I keep thinking about how we almost stopped to talk to him but I didn't because I felt safe enough, like I felt like he was safe enough- Roberta Wallace

"It's so weird because I kept thinking 'maybe I should say something' just as we were passing by," Wallace said. "But then I was like 'Oh well, you know, there's literally somebody sitting on a bench watching him. So if something does happen they'll be able to call police right away.'"

Wallace and Fradette phoned the Regina Police Service and gave their statement on Friday morning. 

"Hindsight is 20-20," Fradette said. "Knowing what we know now, we would have stopped and maybe spoken to him and tried to figure out what was going on. You feel a little guilty."

Jay Fradette and Roberta Wallace were on a walk around Wascana Lake when they saw a man diving into the water. Later that evening they saw the rescue team. (Submitted by Jay Fredette)

"I just feel really sad that we saw somebody so close to like the moment that they passed away. And I keep thinking about how we almost stopped to talk to him but I didn't because I felt safe enough, like I felt like he was safe enough," Wallace said. 

Wallace and Fradette say they both offered condolences to the man's family and friends.

"It's a horrible situation," Fradette said. "It's very confusing and I hope they figure out what happened."

The Coroners Service was then called and are notifying the man's next-of-kin. The Coroners Service and police are working together to determine what led to the man's death. 

Police say they have gathered many witness statements but there may be other people who saw all or some of what happened. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Regina Police Service at 306-777-6500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.