A man in his 30s has died after being swept into the Capilano River on Sunday afternoon.
Four friends were fishing near Cable Pool on the Capilano when one of the men tried to cross the river to get a fishing line that had snagged, according to the RCMP. When the man lost his footing and fell in, one of his friends went in after him but was unable to reach him before the man was swept out of view.
The second friend was able to cling to a rock until he was rescued.
RCMP officers and members of both West Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services and District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services found the man who had been swept away downstream a short while later. He was extracted from the river in medical distress by emergency responders who immediately began resuscitation attempts. The man was rushed to St. Paul’s Hospital in critical condition, according to the RCMP. He later died from his injuries.
District of North Vancouver assistant fire chief Walter Warner described the day as “incredibly tough” for those who tried to save the man.
The BC Coroner’s Service now has conduct of the investigation, in partnership with the RCMP. The identity of the man who died has not yet been released, but he is believed to be from Vancouver.
“It’s just such a heartbreaking thing,” said Sgt. Peter DeVries of the North Vancouver RCMP. “It was a beautiful sunny day (Sunday). The salmon are running. It was a perfect day to spend on the river with your fishing buddies. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
North Vancouver’s rivers can be dangerous, noted DeVries, and are subject to significant fluctuations in flow rate. “The beauty can be a bit disarming,” he said. “Those rivers are much more powerful than they look.”
That message was echoed by Dave Steele, owner of North Vancouver’s Highwater Tackle, who said he’s seen too many people die in local rivers over the years, some of them because they haven’t been aware of the hazards.
“It’s just very sad,” he said.
Steele said he regularly sees both adults and children fishing from a narrow slippery rock cliff perched above the river at the Cable Pool.
“You’ve got to look at the water,” he said. “If you look at a raging Capilano River and you’re up on a cliff and know if you fall in, you may die . . . then don’t do it. Do not put yourself in jeopardy.”
Similarly, “when you fall in with hip waders, if you’re not belted in, they fill up like a parachute and you have very little control,” he said.
Anyone fishing North Shore rivers should do so only after getting advice from a knowledgeable source, he said. “There are dos and don’ts associated with (fishing on local rivers). When you step out and when you don’t. Make yourself aware.”
In January 2018 a kayaker died in the Capilano River after losing control in high water levels.
North Vancouver RCMP are reminding the public to always wear a life-jacket when fishing in local rivers or while boating.