Police investigation ongoing in presumed drowning

Lethbridge Police continue to investigate the presumed drowning of a 14-year-old boy who was reported missing in the Oldman River last weekend and has not been recovered.

On July 6, 2018 at approximately 7:42 p.m. police responded to a report of a missing youth in the Oldman River. The boy had been walking with a 14-year-old male friend and the friend’s 59-year-old grandmother in the Alexander Wilderness Park when the group entered the water to cross the river and he subsequently lost his footing and went under. The grandmother attempted to pull the boy to safety but her efforts were unsuccessful. Upon getting to shore she immediately called 911 and members of the Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services Water Rescue Team initiated a search. Police officers, including patrol members and K9, assisted by combing the banks and used an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to conduct an aerial search. The search was suspended after dark and resumed in the morning. Since that time Fire Department divers have tirelessly searched the water and LPS has continued to use a UAV. Members of the Lethbridge and Area Search and Rescue Association (LASARA) were also deployed to assist in searching the banks.

Police have interviewed the witnesses involved and have remained in constant contact with the victim’s parents. The LPS Victim/Witness Services Unit is also providing support to both the family and witnesses.

“This is a tragic situation and I want to assure the community we’re doing everything we can to find this boy and give his parents a sense of closure,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Stef of the Criminal Investigation Section. “Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Efforts by the fire department have now transitioned from underwater diving to a surface recovery search and LPS will continue to use the UAV and members of Search and Rescue to search the shoreline. When the victim is located, the investigation will proceed as a sudden death and the Medical Examiner’s Office will be notified. A subsequent autopsy will likely be ordered and the investigation will remain active pending the results.

At this time the victim is presumed drowned and there is no evidence to suggest foul play. At the request of his family, his name will not be released.

The Alexander Wilderness Park will remain closed to the public until further notice.