London drowning: Teen’s canoe death sad first for the city

Adam Nigh

(Facebook photo – Courtesy of London Free Press)

The death of a 19-year-old man who fell out of a canoe at Westminster Ponds may be the first drowning in a city park or environmentally significant area, says the city’s managing director of parks and recreation.

Bill Coxhead said other than drownings in the Thames River, he can’t recall any in a city park or environmentally significant area.

“We are very saddened by this tragic situation. It’s a preventable accident if they had been wearing their life-jackets,” he said.

Three people — two men aged 21 and 19 and a 19-year-old woman — were in a canoe on the north pond in Westminster Ponds when the canoe overturned at 3 a.m. Sunday.

The 21-year-old man and 19-year-old woman swam to shore. The body of the 19-year-old man was found Monday.

London police haven’t released his identity but friends have confirmed he was Adam Nigh, who played rugby and football at Waterford District high school. Waterford is north of Simcoe.

Coxhead, who is responsible for aquatic training, said falling into the frigid water in the middle of the night without a life-jacket is extremely dangerous. Hypothermia can set in quickly and the shock of the cold water and darkness can be disorienting and cause people to swim in the wrong direction, he said.

Though the Westminster Ponds is classified as an environmentally significant area, its use is governed by the same rules as city parks.

Those rules allow launching of non-motorized watercraft, Coxhead said.

But under the parks bylaw, it is illegal to be in a park or environmentally significant area between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Coxhead said evicting people in the overnight hours is generally done by police on the basis of a complaint. He said those complaints usually involve bush parties.

But he said there are private properties around the north pond that go right to the water’s edge, so it is difficult to restrict access to the water.

Friends paid tribute Tuesday to Nigh, saying he was kind, generous and a mentor to other students. He raced stock cars and was apprenticing to be a mechanic.

Source: London Free Press | London drowning: Teen’s canoe death sad first for the city