BALA, Ont. – Just days after three men drowned in the churning waters beneath a waterfall in Ontario’s cottage country, two men were swept away by a current in the same area while trying to rescue a young girl.
One man drowned while trying to save his nine-year-old daughter, while the other was on life support in a Barrie, Ont., hospital Wednesday evening.
The incident was especially shocking as it came just hours after the body of one of the weekend drowning victims was pulled from water a short distance away.
Provincial police from the Bracebridge, Ont., detachment say the men, who were brothers, entered the fast-moving water at the base of Bala Falls on Wednesday afternoon in an attempt to rescue the girl.
The girl, police said, was wearing a life-jacket and playing in the water when she began to drift away from shore.
Const. Peter Leon says she was rescued and is not hurt.
Her father, 44-year-old Nadim Shah, was taken to the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
His brother, 53-year-old Ghulam Badar, was also presumed dead when he was pulled from the water but was revived after arriving at the hospital, said Leon.
“They did some work on him, and I guess they were able to bring him back, so to speak,” Leon said. “Although, as I say, his condition is listed as grave and on life support.”
Badar was transported by air ambulance to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie, where he was listed in critical condition Wednesday evening.
Shah and his daughter were visiting from the Chicago area, said Leon, while Badar is from Mississauga, Ont., west of Toronto.
The Bracebridge detachment was also involved in the recovery of the bodies of three swimmers who disappeared in the fast-flowing water near Moon Falls on Sunday.
On Wednesday morning, police divers recovered the body of 31-year-old Vladimir Tsimfer – the last of the three to be found.
Moon Falls is about 30 kilometres east of Bala Falls, on the other side of Lake Muskoka.
Many of the waterways in the Muskoka region are flowing “significantly faster” than normal, said Leon, because of higher-than-average rainfall this year.
Police are warning people not to wander into unknown waters without first speaking to local cottage and marina operators who know where it’s safe to swim, said Leon.
“I think the tragedies that have taken place over the past few days are certainly an indication that our waterways, as enjoyable as they can be, do pose a danger,” said Leon.
“People need to be certainly cognizant of that fact.”