Cliff jumping is a beloved summer activity in the North Okanagan, but it’s dangerous and precautions must be taken by participants.
With the uptick in drownings and cliff jumping injuries and deaths, the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) and BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit are reminding British Columbians to stay safe while enjoying summer activities.
The provincial organizations are reminding cliff jumpers that water may be deeper than you think, or sharp rocks may be lurking under the water.
Slippery rocks can cause an individual to lose their footing and enter the water in a way that could cause spinal compression, broken bones or a concussion.
The higher you jump from, the faster your body hits the water and the PHSA and the injury research prevention unit said those fast speeds can cause injury.
The Vernon area has already had one fatality in a cliff jumping accident on Kalamalka Lake in Coldstream Sunday, June 21.
A 32-year-old Vernon man jumped from the cliffs in Kalamalka Provincial Park but he didn’t resurface.
Police said several people attempted to find the man, but were unsuccessful.
Vernon North Okanagan RCMP and Vernon Search and Rescue combed the waters, using an underwater camera, and the man’s body was recovered Monday, June 22, by the RCMP Underwater Recovery Team.
“Cliff diving, although a common occurrence seen on Kalamalka Lake, can be fatal and police are asking those who access the water’s edge to use caution and common sense so that everyone can stay safe and enjoy the incoming summer months,” media officer Const. Kelly Brett said.
Another cliff jumper’s body was retrieved from Okanagan Lake Aug. 5, 2020, after an extensive five-day search.
The 33-year-old man from Alberta was cliff jumping near Rattlesnake Island Aug. 1, but didn’t resurface sparking search efforts by Kelowna police, RCMP Underwater Recovery Team, Peachland Fire and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue.
“The depth of the water, as well as the topography of the lake, made the recovery of the deceased very challenging,” West Kelowna RCMP Sgt. Joel Glen said.
Vernon Search and Rescue (VSAR) most recently rescued an injured cliff jumper in Kalamalka Provincial Park on Aug. 22, 2020.
“Upon locating the subject, our members packaged the subject and transferred them to our waiting boat,” VSAR said. “Our boat team returned to the Coldstream boat launch where B.C. Ambulance members were waiting and the subject was transferred into their care.”
The individual had back pain upon VSAR arrival and was put into a c-spine.