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VIU student dies after being pulled from Nanaimo lake

The young man was attempting to swim to the dock in Westwood Lake when he failed to surface, police say
Nanaim RCMP say two people found the swimmer and pulled him to shore, and he was taken to hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

A young man who died after going into unspecified distress about 8 p.m. Wednesday in Nanaimo’s Westwood Lake has been identified as a student at Vancouver Island University.

Nanaimo RCMP said he was swimming with a group of friends.

“He was attempting to swim to the dock when he did not surface,” said Reserve Const. Gary O’Brien.

Two people who were not part of the group found him and pulled him to shore, he said.

“They initiated CPR,” O’Brien said. “Fire and ambulance took over and CPR was done for about 30 minutes. They did obtain a pulse.”

The man was transported to hospital but was pronounced dead about 5 a.m. Thursday.

The case has been turned over to the B.C. Coroners Service.

The university confirmed the man is a student there but his name has not been released.

University president Deborah Saucier said in a statement that she is sharing the news of the death with “deep sadness.”

“On behalf of the university, I want to offer my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the student’s family, loved ones, their friends here at Vancouver Island University and abroad, and to everyone that knew and loved them,” she said. “Our community shares your grief and you are in our thoughts.

“As a parent and university president, I am heartbroken for your loss.”

Support is being offered by the university to those who were with the student when the incident occurred, and the school has been in contact with the student’s family overseas.

“This is an immense tragedy for our community,” Saucier said. “I encourage our students and employees to check in on each other and to access the in-person counselling supports we have made available on campus, as well as the virtual and online counselling supports for students and employees.”

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