Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay police to continue dedicated patrols of city waterways

The current acting deputy chief of police in Thunder Bay, Ont., says there currently are no plans to stop increased patrols of watercourses in the city, as police say they continue to encounter dangerous situations.

Officers patrol waterways like Neebing-McIntyre Floodway, McVicar Creek at minimum 3 times each 24 hours

Thunder Bay police say they're continuing increased patrols along designated high risk watercourses in the city, like the Neebing-McIntyre Floodway. (Lisa Laco / CBC)

The current acting deputy chief of police in Thunder Bay, Ont., says there currently are no plans to stop increased patrols of watercourses in the city, as police say they continue to encounter dangerous situations.

A woman was rescued from the Neebing-McIntyre Floodway late Saturday afternoon roughly three days after a man was safely pulled from the river. A 21-year-old man was found dead in the same waterway on September 23.

"There is not a stop date thus far," acting deputy police chief Don Lewis said of the increased patrols, which, he said, run at minimum three times per 24 hour period along designated high risk watercourses, like the Neebing-McIntyre Floodway and McVicar Creek.

Another woman was safely pulled from the floodway in July.

"There are other things, and initiatives, that hopefully come to fruition in the near future concerning increased camera surveillance and those types of things in perhaps answering some of the unanswered questions," he continued. "The project is going to continue based on our results so far."

A police media release issued on September 28, updating the condition of the 20-year-old man rescued from the river noted that since the patrols started in December, 2016, approximately 50 incidents have occurred where police intervention has likely saved lives.

On Monday, Lewis added that those included instances where people were pulled from the water or were found dangerously close to the edge.

Volunteers with the Bear Clan, a First Nations-led volunteer group that has vowed to regularly conduct foot patrols in the city, also does routine checks of the river.

Not all incidents have a happy ending. Dylan Moonias, 21, from Thunder Bay was the third young person whose body was found in 2017 in a part of the Neebing-McIntyre Floodway. That followed that deaths of Tammy Keeash, 17, and Josiah Begg, 14, whose bodies were found in May.
14-year-old Josiah Begg was one of the people who was found dead in the Neebing-McIntyre Floodway in 2017. (Jody Porter/CBC)

York Regional and Nishnawbe Aski police are working with the Thunder Bay service on the Keeash and Begg investigations at the request of Ontario's chief coroner. A Thunder Bay police spokesperson confirmed on Monday that Moonias's death is still being investigated by city police.

The goal, Lewis said, "is not to have anyone else die in a ... waterway within the city."

He added that further surveillance efforts, like cameras, once implemented, could also help police with some unanswered questions as far as how some people ended up in the water. In most instances, Lewis said evidence to suggest foul play "just does not exist," but added the cases remain open.

Alcohol was determined to be a factor in in the incident on Wednesday, police reported; Lewis said there was nothing to indicate anything criminal about how the woman ended up in the river on Saturday.

A safety audit of Thunder Bay's rivers, which led to the increased police presence along them, was one of the recommendations arising out of the inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations students in Thunder Bay.

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