2 men dead after boat capsizes on Lake Diefenbaker amidst huge waves

Two men are dead after a boat capsized in Peterson Bay, Sask., on the north arm of Lake Diefenbaker on Thursday night, according to the Elbow volunteer fire department.

Fire chief says men were wearing life-jackets; waves reached 1.8 metres high during storm

Two bodies were recovered from Peterson Bay on the north arm of Lake Diefenbaker after a boat capsized there Thursday night, according to the Elbow volunteer fire department. (Karin Yeske/CBC )

Two men are dead after a boat capsized Thursday night in Peterson Bay, Sask., on the north arm of Lake Diefenbaker, according to the Elbow volunteer fire department.

Fire chief Glen Amor said his department received a call at around 8:15 p.m. CST from two kayakers — who had also been on the lake — about the boat going down. 

One of the kayakers, who is also a paramedic, "pulled one of the [boaters] to shore and tried to do CPR on them but she determined he was deceased," said Amor.

"People [in Elbow] are pretty upset. We don't have many drownings," said Bryan Cafferata, the owner of Lakeside Marina Service.

Waves as high as 1.8 metres

The fire department joined the search at around 9:30 p.m., with Amor and Cafferata using a pontoon boat from the marina to scan the lake.

They did not find the boat or the second man Thursday — "just a couple of cushions and a couple of paddles," said Amor — and their search was hampered by the thunderstorm that hit the region Thursday night.

"It got dark," he said, with the team searching until about 11:30 p.m.  

"We found debris from the boat but never found this person. The waves were anywhere from 1.2 metres to 1.8 metres and it was still storming so we came back to Elbow."

Environment Canada issued a severe thunderstorm watch that covered the Peterson Bay area at 5:10 p.m. Thursday. It was escalated to a warning at 8:05 p.m.

Cafferata said the searchers did what they could under the circumstances.

"The weather was against us," said Cafferata. "We searched for that person until it just became too dark and too rough.

"At that point we just had to shut it down and come back."   

The storm prevented a STARS helicopter from being dispatched to aid in the search, said Amor. 

2nd body found Friday morning 

The fire department returned to the lake Friday morning at around 7 a.m. About an hour later, the second body was found face down in the water, said Amor. 

"RCMP out of Central Butte came out and picked him up and put him in an ambulance," he said. 

Both of the dead men were wearing life-jackets and they were the only two people in the boat, said Amor. 

Cafferata said the debris spotted Thursday night "would indicate to me that it was probably a smaller, older boat" that capsized.  


Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Saskatoon

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