Thaw brings bodies

Three bodies have surfaced near the banks of the North SaskatchewanRiver since Friday, episodes not uncommon for an Edmonton spring,experts say.

Three bodies have surfaced near the banks of the North Saskatchewan River since Friday, episodes not uncommon for an Edmonton spring, experts say.

A body floating near the Capilano Bridge was recovered by fire crews yesterday morning. On Saturday afternoon, a woman’s body was pulled from the river near the Dawson Bridge, one day after the body of 47-year-old journalist Gilbert Bouchard was recovered in the water near Jasper Avenue and 82 Street.

After 35 years of mapping every inch of the North Saskatchewan River, rescue dive instructor Jack Madro says the pattern of bodies surfacing in spring thaw remains constant.

“As the water warms up, decomposition floats the bodies to the top and that’s where we find them after they’ve been frozen at the bottom all winter,” he said, adding a half-dozen are usually salvaged when the river is shallow this time of year — either victims of homicide, accident or intention.

The waterway running through the middle of the city can be lethal, Madro said. Getting caught in a six- or seven-knot current is possible in summer months, making live rescue perilous, and swimming out near hopeless.

Boaters and hikers on riverside paths who happen upon people in the water face a slippery slope in judgment, Madro said, as rescue attempts can prove treacherous.

“It’s always risk-benefit analysis. Bottom line is if it’s worth your life to try to help when a person’s already dead,” he said. “If they’re alive, do whatever you can.”

Neither identities nor cause of death have been released in the most recent discoveries. Police spokeswoman Karen Carlson confirmed each occurrence was non-criminal in nature.

 
 
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