News

Searches from water, ground, air deployed looking for Simcoe man in frigid pond

By Debora Van Brenk, The London Free Press

A 19-year-old Simcoe man was missing Sunday after he and two friends tipped their canoe into a London pond in early-­morning darkness Sunday, triggering a search by emergency workers that included using a drone.

Authorities were searching by boat, on foot and scanning from the air for the teen after the canoe which he and two others had been using, overturned in Westminster Pond’s north pond early Sunday.

The canoe tipped about 3 a.m., said London Const. Ken Steeves.

Two others — a 21-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman — were able to make it ashore, then called police.

Police and firefighters’ boats took to the water in search of the Simcoe man. Officers on the ground scoured the shore, ringed with heavy vegetation, and an OPP drone equipped with a camera was buzzing above the water.

None of the three canoeists was wearing a life jacket, Steeves said.

“It’s been cold and our No. 1 concern is for his safety,” Steeves said.

Even as light faded Sunday evening, police patrolled the water in a rescue boat; and officers on shore, using flashlights, searched the weedy perimeter and beneath the small docks that hit into the pond.

North Pond is the deepest of the six Westminster ponds, with a depth on some places of more than 20 metres. It's also the largest, at 9.4 hectares.

Steeves said it’s possible a dive team also might be called out to the scene.

The red canoe the trio used was visible on the southernmost shore of the pond and was cordoned off by yellow caution tape.

Pond Mills Road between Southdale Road and Bradley Avenue remained closed Sunday afternoon.

The ponds, created by receding glaciers at the end of the last ice age, are part of the city’s largest environmentally significant area.

The ponds and surrounding trails on about 200 hectares are a magnet for anglers, canoeists, bird-­watchers, hikers and naturalists.

dvanbrenk@postmedia.com